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Purdue, Student, Drinking, Public Intoxication

Public Intoxication at Purdue: What Students Should Know in West Lafayette

Purdue students have long been at risk for public intoxication arrests while walking home after a night of drinking. The Purdue party scene extends from West Lafayette residential neighborhoods to campus fraternities and sororities, from bars at Chauncey Hill to the Levee, and across the Wabash River to downtown Lafayette. While students can often walk home from a night out partying, doing so has historically placed them at a substantial risk of being arrested for public intoxication.

Until July 1, 2012, the crime of public intoxication merely required the State to prove that a person was intoxicated in a public place. For Purdue students, this meant that every time they left a bar or house party, they were at risk of going to jail if they exhibited signs of intoxication. However, following an Indiana Supreme Court decision upholding the conviction for public intoxication of a vehicle passenger, Indiana amended its public intoxication law to encourage intoxicated people to walk home, take a cab, or have a designated driver.

Under the new public intoxication law, it is no longer a crime to merely be drunk in public. The State must also prove that the person endangered the life of themselves or another person; breached the peace or were in imminent danger of breaching the peace; or harassed, annoyed, or alarmed another person. Some recent Indiana Court of appeals decisions have given further clarity to the public intoxication law. Even if an intoxicated person harasses or alarms someone, they must do so in a public place. A person creating a disturbance on private property, and then walking home on a public sidewalk, is not guilty under the new law. Furthermore, the State cannot rely on speculation that an intoxicated person was in imminent danger of breaching the peace. They must prove it with actual evidence.

For Purdue students, the new law and recent cases are valuable and defense friendly. If you have been rowdy at a house party, you can still walk home intoxicated on a public sidewalk and not be guilty of a crime. In the event of a police encounter, students should stay calm and not be belligerent. An officer investigating an intoxicated student may not have enough evidence to make an arrest for public intoxication. However, if the student creates a disturbance, his or her behavior could be used to allege a breach of the peace.

Gibson Law Office has represented Purdue students charged with criminal cases since 1999. Our attorneys understand that when a college student is arrested, the consequences extend beyond the courtroom. They may also face a conduct conference or Community Standards Board hearing at Purdue. A criminal record could also jeopardize scholarships, intern opportunities, and job prospects upon graduation. If a Purdue student is arrested, it is important to contact an attorney with significant experience representing college students. Changes in Indiana’s public intoxication law, and the enactment of the new expungement law, provide new tools for attorneys to defend and help students. If you are a Purdue student charged with a crime, call Gibson Law Office for a free initial consultation. We strategically defend students and work to protect your future.