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Walking down sidewalk while drunk does not meet new conditions for public intox, COA rules

October 8, 2013

Four criteria added to the state’s public intoxication statute in 2012 presented the Indiana Court of Appeals with a question of first impression when it considered a man’s arrest for being drunk in a public place.

David Holbert was stopped by police after a neighbor observed his suspicious behavior and called 9-1-1. Officers discovered a baggie of marijuana and noted his eyes were glassy and bloodshot, he smelled of alcohol, his speech was slow and slurred, and he walked unsteadily.

Subsequently, the state charged Holbert with possession of marijuana, as a Class A misdemeanor, and public intoxication, as a Class B misdemeanor.  

Holbert argued the state failed to present sufficient evidence to support his conviction for public intoxication. In 2012, the Indiana General Assembly amended the public intoxication statute, Indiana Code 7.1-5-1-3, by adding four conditions that clarify when drunkenness becomes a Class B misdemeanor.

These criteria are the endangerment of the individual’s life; the endangerment of the life of another person; breaching the peace or in imminent danger of breaching the peace; or harassing, annoying or alarming another person.

Holbert asserted he did not meet any of the four criteria while in a public place and therefore could not be convicted of public intoxication.

The Court of Appeals agreed. In David Holbert v. State of Indiana, 49A05-1302-CR-54, the court reversed Holbert’s conviction, finding no evidence that he engaged in any of the four listed criteria.
 

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