You’re out on the town, having a few beers with friends. You decide to hoof it home to avoid a ticket for operating while intoxicated, being responsible. A skilled criminal defense attorney trusts would definitely agree with that plan. You have nothing to worry about, right? Well, beware, as Indiana Courts have scrutinized the language of the public intoxication (“PI”) statute, as it’s definitely easy to violate the way it is written. Recently, in 2012, the PI statute changed to ensure that merely being drunk in public was not a crime. After all, we all want people to avoid driving over a ton of metal down the road after having a few beers with friends. It’s safer for everyone. So, the powers that be decided they better fix the law to ensure that people are still encouraged to walk or get a cab when drunk, instead of driving the ton of metal and hurting themselves or others. This is just good public policy.
The problem is, there are still issues you need to be aware of when taking that much safer walk. You could be exposing yourself to a PI ticket. In small towns, especially those built up around a college, PI tickets appear to be a way to both fill the town bank account, as well as to pick on college kids, who may be rowdy after a tailgate, that invade the town while school is in session. So, what are your rights?
The law requires the State to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you actually endangered yourself or another person, harassed or annoyed another person, or breached the peace. Unfortunately, officers tend to forget these elements, and base decisions to provide PI tickets on the level at which you annoy them. That’s not the standard the Court has set forth in case law, and would not hold up in court. Also, another odd phenomenon that occurs is officers luring people off their own porch or home/yard area to provide the lovely PI ticket. The problem is, you can be as annoying as you want in your own home/porch/yard, and it’s not public intoxication, as it’s not taking place in public.
While this is all good, solid information, one thing you can do to lessen your chances of catching that officer’s eye in the first place, is check your behavior while walking in public after drinking. Attempt to keep your volume down, within reasonable limits when walking around in public. Do not engage in banging on doors, property or other items.
These tips would help you go a long way toward avoiding the notice of your friendly neighborhood police officer.
Now, this is an informational blog to provide you just that, information, so you know your rights. As a practical matter, this blogger does not advise you to shout this information to officers if they are giving you a ticket for public intoxication. Call attorney and take your fight to Court. Let attorneys argue for you; don’t argue with the officer while they are dealing with you after you’ve been drinking. That will not help your case, as typically, neither prosecutors nor judges appreciate reading that people were “rude” to officers…
*The opinions expressed are of this blogger only and are not intended as legal advice or as an avenue to open a lawyer-client relationship.