It’s that time of year again. As college classes resume and the weather cools off, football season begins in earnest. And with football comes one of America’s finest traditions: tailgating!
All across the United States, family and friends will gather in parking lots and fields to prepare for kickoff by grilling, conversing, and, of course, drinking. But, is it legal to drink in a public place? You may have heard of the so-called “drinking ticket” that those under the age of 21 can receive if they are caught consuming alcohol. However, there are circumstances in which an individual over the age of 21 can also get in trouble for drinking alcohol.
What is the penalty for public intoxication in Indiana?
In Indiana, public intoxication is a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and / or a $1,000 fine. (Indiana Code 7.1-5-1-3). While it is exceedingly unlikely that someone would suffer the maximum sentence for public intoxication, it is important to know the elements of the offense to avoid having a perfectly great tailgate ruined by a summons or, even worse, an arrest.
To be convicted of public intoxication, an individual must be in a public place and in a state of intoxication caused by either the person’s use of alcohol or a controlled substance and is also doing one (or more) of the following:
- Endangering their own life.
- Endangering someone else’s life.
- Breaching the peace (or in imminent danger of doing so).
- Harassing, annoying, or alarming another person.
Naturally, many public intoxication cases fall under the final two categories, in which an intoxicated person becomes too rowdy, causing the people around them to seek relief from patrolling law enforcement. This is a scenario that plays out frequently at every tailgate across the country: a fan drinks to excess in anticipation for the big game and their drunken behavior crosses the line from harmless to harassment and this behavior is either observed by or reported to police. Police presence is a fixture at large sporting events and officers will frequent the tailgating areas to ensure the safe enjoyment of all attendees.
Is it legal to drink in public at a sporting event?
While it is legal to drink in public and enjoy your tailgate, limit your consumption so as to avoid endangering yourself or others. Please also consider indulging in the unquestionably legal other benefits of tailgating, snacks.
If you are charged with public intoxication or have too many tailgate leftovers, Keffer Hirschauer LLP is here to assist you. Call (317) 857-0160 for a free consultation about your case and see what we can do to help you!