Walking drunk now legal in Indiana – sometimes

By Greg Margason
The Statehouse File

INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a bill into law Monday that is meant to let Hoosiers walk drunk in public or ride in a car while intoxicated without fear of arrest – unless they’re causing a problem.

Senate Bill 97 narrowed the scope of the state’s public intoxication law.

“These are people who are not drinking and driving, but are returning home safely by catching a ride with someone else or walking home,” said the bill’s author, Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis. “Without this clarification, innocent Hoosiers were being charged with crimes that were unfair.”

Young introduced the bill after the Indiana Supreme Court decided a case known as Moore v. State. In that decision, the justices reinstated the public intoxication conviction of an Indianapolis woman who was a passenger in her car being driven by a sober, designated driver.

Under the new law, individuals can no longer be convicted of public intoxication unless they endanger their own life, someone else’s life, are likely to disturb the peace, create a disturbance or harass another person.

An amendment to the bill added a waiver for officers that says they are not liable should an individual cause a disturbance after being dismissed by police.

Greg Margason is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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