– Under the previous version of the statute, there was no third element. If you were intoxicated and in public you could be arrested. This resulted in some strange convictions.

– For example, people who drank too much and took a cab home could be arrested if the cab was pulled over because the cab was in a public place (on a public street).

– I saw one case where a defendant and his girlfriend were drinking and got into an argument. She kicked him out. Defendant went to his car and decided to sleep it off in the back seat since he could not go back to the residence and could not drive. In this case, the Trial judge found him not guilty on public policy, and the State did not appeal, but if the State had appealed, the State would have probably prevailed.

– Some of these cases started going to the Court of Appeals with mixed results. The Supreme Court then over ruled these cases, finding that the legislative intent was clear and that mere intoxication in a public place is sufficient for a conviction. The legislature responded by adding the third element. This was relatively recent and case law is still developing on this issue.

Case Law

– Evidence was not sufficient to support a conviction for public intoxication because, although defendant was intoxicated based on an odor of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and unsteady gait, the evidence did not show that defendant either endangered himself or others, breached or was in imminent danger of breaching the peace, or harassed, annoyed, or alarmed another person. Defendant was in a private place before calling police from a parking lot to remove himself from a dangerous situation at a residence. Stephens v. State, 992 N.E.2d 935 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013).

– Evidence in a prosecution for public intoxication did not show past or present conduct by defendant that amounted to endangerment of his or another’s life, as there was no evidence that defendant went anywhere near the busy, dangerous roads outside an apartment complex, there was no evidence that the road within the apartment complex presented a danger to him, and the argument that he was in danger of being struck by a car if he left the complex was merely speculative. Davis v. State, 13 N.E.3d 500 (Ind. Ct. App. 2014).

There was insufficient evidence to support defendant’s conviction for public intoxication because the State failed to prove that he was endangering his life. Defendant was standing peaceably several feet off the road beside a car, the officer did not see defendant in the roadway, nor did he see him fall, and there was nothing to indicate that defendant’s intoxication made it more likely that he would be hit by a car; it was his conduct and not the conduct of a passing motorist that was the relevant consideration. Sesay v. State, 5 N.E.3d 478 (Ind. Ct. App. 2014).

– Evidence was insufficient to sustain defendant’s conviction for public intoxication because defendant was asleep at a bus shelter, which was unlikely to annoy a reasonable person, and there were no other people at the bus shelter aside from defendant, his brother, and a police officer; although defendant was agitated after being approached by the police officer, the degree of agitation he expressed, standing alone, did not rise to the level that would annoy a reasonable person. Morgan v. State, 22 N.E.3d 570 (Ind. 2014).

– There was insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction for public intoxication. Defendant’s conduct of sitting in the passenger seat of a pulled-over car and arguing and attempting to avoid blame for throwing a bottle out of the window did not reach the level of disturbing the peace, harassment, annoyance, or alarm. Milam v. State, 14 N.E.3d 879 (Ind. Ct. App. 2014).

– Evidence was sufficient to support a conviction for public intoxication because defendant had red and watery eyes, slurred speech, unsteady balance, and an odor of alcohol about his person; moreover, defendant was alarming others by walking toward them in an aggressive manner while yelling. Naas v. State, 993 N.E.2d 1151 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013).

– Evidence was sufficient to prove public intoxication because defendant harassed, annoyed, or alarmed a woman by bumping into her in his intoxicated state as defendant ran into the woman after walking out of a bar; the woman started screaming after defendant ran into her, but defendant continued walking and ignored an officer’s requests to stop; and defendant was entirely unaware of his surroundings. Brown v. State, 12 N.E.3d 952 (Ind. App. 2014).


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