Public Intoxication Ruling Could Dampen Party Plans

Lawmaker Lobbies For Change In Statute

An Indiana Supreme Court ruling this week is a timely, cautionary reminder for Hoosiers who plan to consume alcohol over the holiday weekend.

It is possible to be charged with public intoxication, even while in a vehicle with a designated driver.

Police had arrested an Indiana woman who was drunk in the passenger seat of a car. The Supreme Court ruled that a public intoxication charge can stand against people in a car on a public street.

Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, said he's tried unsuccessfully to get the law changed and that as an attorney he represented someone in a similar public intoxication case.

"Someone who's trying to do something right is going to be made into a criminal (doing) something we've asked them to do -- don't drink and drive. So now, it's don't drink and ride," Young said. "We shouldn't arrest them because they've taken a ride instead of driving a car."

Young said he'd like the law to be changed so that someone can be charged with public intoxication only if they are being unruly or dangerous.

In their 4-1 ruling, justices said lawmakers should clarify the intent of the public intoxication statute.