Public Intoxication vs. OWI
If you have consumed alcohol at a party or a bar, should you drive, get a ride or walk home? In Indiana, you once faced the possibility of arrest under all three options. Indiana cases used to hold that you could be convicted of public intoxication even if you were a passenger in a car. Because the car was on a public road, the passenger was considered to be in a public place subject to arrest for public intoxication. Walking on a sidewalk put a pedestrian in a public place as well.
To encourage individuals not to operate a vehicle while intoxicated, the Indiana legislature amended the public intoxication statute effective July 1, 2012 so that it no longer a crime simply to be intoxicated in public. Now to be convicted of public intoxication, the State is required to prove that a person was in a public place in a state of intoxication and endangered his life or the life of another person, breached the peace, or harassed, annoyed or alarmed another person. These additions to the statute promote public policy by encouraging intoxicated persons to avoid creating dangerous situations by walking, catching a taxi, or riding home with a designated driver rather than driving while intoxicated.
Under the new public intoxication statute, your best option to get home after drinking alcohol without being arrested is to get a ride followed by walking. However, if you find yourself having been arrested for public intoxication or OWI, you should immediately hire experienced criminal defense lawyers such as Vonderheide & Knecht to help you fight the prosecutor.