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OWI, DUI, Drinking, Public Intoxication

Public Intoxication Conviction Reversed Due to Lack of Endangerment

An Indiana woman’s conviction for public intoxication was reversed after the Court of Appeals held that speculation she was about to operate her vehicle while intoxicated was insufficient to prove endangerment. Police officers had contact with the woman during an unrelated investigation. The woman exited an apartment carrying her purse and informed officers that she was going to leave the property. Police smelled alcohol and claimed she had red watery eyes and slurred speech. She was then arrested and charged with Public Intoxication, a Class B misdemeanor.

In 2014, Indiana revised the Public Intoxication statute which now provides that it is not illegal to be intoxicated in a public place, unless the person:

  1. Endangers the person’s life;
  2. Endangers the life of another person;
  3. Breaches the peace or is in imminent danger of breaching the peace; or
  4. Harasses, annoys, or alarms another person.

At trial, the State alleged that the woman endangered her life or the life of another person because she was about to drive while intoxicated. She was convicted after a bench trial and appealed.

The Court of Appeals reversed the conviction and found that “the possibility of driving” is insufficient to establish endangerment under the Indiana public intoxication law. The evidence at trial was that the woman was intoxicated and might have driven somewhere. The Court held that to establish endangerment under the public intoxication statute requires actual conduct by a defendant which places a person in actual danger of harm.

Purpose of Indiana Public Intoxication Law

The public intoxication law was revised to encourage people to not drive while intoxicated. By changing the law, intoxicated people are encouraged to walk home or take public transportation without the fear of being arrested.

Lafayette Criminal Lawyers – Defense of Public Intoxication Cases

Gibson Law Office has extensive experience defending public intoxication cases. When applying the new statute, many public intoxication cases can be defended by challenging the State’s evidence of endangerment. Our Lafayette attorneys regularly represent clients in public intoxication cases originating at bars adjacent to the Purdue campus. With offices in Bloomington, Anderson, and Fort Wayne, we have defended clients in more than 70 counties. If you need an experienced attorney for a public intoxication case, call Gibson Law Office for a free consultation.