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Public Intoxication Requires Proof Defendant Harassed Others or Created a Danger

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a man’s conviction for Public Intoxication because the evidence did not show that he harassed or alarmed anyone when he appeared at a gas station drunk. The Court further held that he did not endanger himself or others, because no witnesses testified to observing him drive.
A police officer saw the defendant talking to a cashier at a gas station. The cashier informed the officer that the defendant showed signs of intoxication. The officer approached the defendant and noticed he was “unsteady, smelled of an alcoholic beverage, and had bloodshot eyes.” The defendant had the keys to his car in his pocket. The officer arrested the defendant and had his vehicle towed. The defendant was charged with Public Intoxication, a Class B Misdemeanor, and convicted after a bench trial.
The defendant appealed his conviction acknowledging that he was intoxicated in a public place, but arguing there was insufficient evidence to support a finding that he endangered himself or others or that he had alarmed another person. It is no longer a crime in Indiana to be intoxicated in public. Indiana’s new public intoxication law requires the state to prove that a defendant endangered someone’s life, breached the peace, or harassed or alarmed someone.
The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the defendant’s conviction finding that there was no evidence presented at trial that the cashier was afraid or alarmed by the defendant. The Court further held that there was insufficient evidence to prove that the defendant endangered himself or others by being intoxicated at the gas station. No one testified at trial that they had actually observed the defendant drive to the gas station. And, the defendant did not drive away, because the officer arrested the defendant and towed his car.  
If you are charged with Public Intoxication, you should contact an experienced criminal attorney immediately. Under Indiana’s new public intoxication law, it is no longer a crime to be drunk in public. Gibson Law Office attorneys aggressively defend public intoxication charges. With offices in Lafayette, Bloomington and Fort Wayne, Indiana, we defend public intoxication cases statewide.