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What Does Indiana Law Say About Public Intoxication 

The Indiana laws on public intoxication are located in Indiana Code 7.1-5-1. This chapter addresses various provisions, crimes, and infractions related to alcohol and drunkenness, including public intoxication and intoxication upon common carrier. It also addresses which individual may receive immunity from prosecution for public intoxication and how an offender may have the charges of public intoxication dismissed.  

If you’ve been charged with violating the Indiana laws on public intoxication, you may be tempted to represent yourself and take on any punishment the court deems appropriate. However, this would not be a wise decision. There are some immunity claims available to those charged with public intoxication in Indiana, which can be applied to specific cases. Under certain circumstances, others may also seek to have the charges dismissed by pleading guilty and fulfilling the subsequent conditions the court mandates. But understanding whether or not your case fits the criteria for these avenues can be difficult and often requires the counsel of an experienced Indiana criminal defense attorney.  

The Indianapolis attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP understand Indiana’s criminal code inside and out and can help you determine how to best proceed given the circumstances surrounding your alleged offense. To speak with an attorney today Indiana law on public intoxication, call us at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. 

Indiana Law on Public Intoxication and Common Carrier 

Indiana Code 7.1-5-1-3 states that a person who is in a state of intoxication (caused by their use of alcohol or a controlled substance) in a public place or a place of public resort can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor in Indiana. However, to be charged, they must be endangering their own life; endangering the life of another person; breaching the peace or in imminent danger of breaching the peace; or harassing, annoying, or alarming another person.  

"Controlled Substance" definition for the purposes of understanding Indiana Law on Public Intoxication

In addition, Indiana law on public intoxication contains another similar offense called “intoxication upon common carrier.” As stated in Indiana Code IC 7.1-5-1-6, it is a Class C infraction for a person to be, or to become, intoxicated as a result of the person’s use of alcohol or a controlled substance in or upon a vehicle commonly used for the public transportation of passengers; in or upon a common carrier; or in or about a depot, station, airport, ticket office, waiting room or platform.  

Again, however, to be charged with “intoxication upon common carrier,” the person must be endangering their own life; endangering the life of another person; breaching the peace or in imminent danger of breaching the peace; or harassing, annoying, or alarming another person in order to be charged. In addition, the Class C infraction can be elevated to a Class B misdemeanor if the violation is committed knowingly or intentionally, and the person has a prior unrelated adjudication or conviction for a violation of this section within the previous five years. 

Indiana Laws on Public Intoxication: Immunity from Criminal Prosecution 

Indiana Code 7.1-5-1-6.5 states that a law enforcement officer cannot take a person into custody solely because of a public intoxication offense, if they meet one of several grounds, including:  

  • The person has requested emergency medical assistance 
  • The person has acted in concert with another person requesting emergency medical assistance (and that person reasonably appears to need medical attention) 
  • The person is a victim of a reported Indiana sex crime 
  • The person witnessed and reported what the person reasonably believed to be a crime.  

However, to receive immunity under this section of Indiana law on public intoxication, the person must have provided the law enforcement officer with their full name and all relevant information. In addition, in situations where medical assistance was requested, the person must remain at the scene with the individual who needed assistance until the assistance has arrived; AND cooperated with the emergency medical assistance personnel and law enforcement officers at the scene.  

Dismissal of Charges for Public Intoxication or Illegal Possession 

When a person’s arrest under the Indiana law on public intoxication was a result of another person reporting that they appeared to be in need of medical assistance due to the use of alcohol, they may be able to have the charges against them dismissed. However, they cannot have a prior conviction for a public intoxication, intoxication upon common carrier or the illegal possession of alcohol (see below), as a dismissal under this section can only happen once in a person’s lifetime. They must also plead guilty to the offense at hand and agree to be placed in the custody of the court. From there, the court may, without entering a judgment of conviction, defer further proceedings and place the person in the custody of the court under certain determined conditions. If the person fulfills those conditions, their charges may be dismissed. However, if the person then violates those conditions, the court may enter a judgment of conviction. 

Illegal Possession of Alcohol in Indiana

Per Indiana Code 7.1-5-7-7, a minor commits the offense of illegal possession in Indiana, a Class C misdemeanor, when they knowingly possess or consume an alcoholic beverage, or transport an alcoholic beverage on a public highway when not accompanied by at least one of their parents or guardians. In addition to the penalties associated with a Class C misdemeanor, if a minor is found to have consumed an alcoholic beverage and has been caught transporting one on a public highway, the court has the discretion to suspend their driving privileges for at least 60 days.  

Thanks to Indiana’s expungement law, if you have been convicted under the Indiana laws on public intoxication, you may be able to seal your criminal record. For many, expungement is a legal process that allows an offender to move forward with their life without having to carry the weight of their criminal conviction(s). For example, a criminal record in Indiana is available to potential employers, landlords, and professional licensing agencies, all of whom can ask questions about past convictions. However, if a person has had their record expunged, they are no longer legally obligated to answer those questions and can simply say that they have no convictions on their record.  

Eligibility for Indiana expungement varies by the severity of the conviction or charge. For those with only public intoxication conviction on their Indiana criminal record, the eligibility requirements include:  

  • 5 or more years have passed since the date of the public intoxication conviction 
  • No convictions in the five years since the request for expungement has been made 
  • No current, pending criminal charges 
  • Expungement filing fee has been paid 

If a person with a conviction under the Indiana laws on public intoxication has met all of the requirements, the court MUST grant their request to expunge their misdemeanor conviction records.  

While this whole process may seem rather straightforward, it can become rather complicated. Therefore, it’s best to hire the best expungement lawyer possible to help you properly evaluate your eligibility and guide you through the expungement process. Looking for expungement lawyers near me? The Indiana expungement attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP routinely assist Hoosiers seeking expungement and can assist you by providing the following services:  

  • Confirming expungement eligibility  
  • Gathering all relevant case records 
  • Researching your criminal history 
  • Gathering all necessary court documents 
  • Preparing the expungement petition 
  • Representing you in court 
  • Distributing notice of the expungement to state agencies 

Want to learn more about Indiana expungements? Curious about our expungement cost? Call our Expungement lawyers in Indiana today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

Questions about Indiana Law and Public Intoxication? 

If you’ve been arrested or have questions about Indiana law on public intoxication, it would be wise to consult with a criminal defense attorney about your options moving forward. You don’t have to resign yourself to the maximum penalties under the law. A skilled Indianapolis criminal defense attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP can help you understand the legal nuances surrounding your charge, and work towards eliminating the charges altogether. To speak with one of our Indianapolis attorneys today, call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. 

Summary
What does Indiana Law Say About Public Intoxication?
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What does Indiana Law Say About Public Intoxication?
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The Indiana laws on public intoxication contain a multitude of nuances. Learn more about the laws, immunity and the dismissal of charges here.
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Keffer Hirschauer LLP

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