Intoxication Laws in the US

How do the intoxication laws work here in the US? Where do you have to be, for you to be considered “alcohol intoxicated”? What happens if you are in a vehicle, and the driver is not inxtoxicated, but you are? Can you be arrested for alcohol intoxication? Or better yet, let’s say you are intoxicated, and riding with someone who is also intoxicated. You get pulled over, and the driver is arrested for DUI. Do you also get arrested for alcohol intoxication? or do you have to sit in the jail till you sober up or what?

One more question…do police really have the right to just come into people’s houses when they are throwing parties? What is probable cause for them to do this? And if they do come in and see people intoxicated, can these people be arrested even though they are on private property?

Thanks a lot,

Each jurisidiction may have differing laws. But, in general, it’s against the law to operate a motor vehicle under the influence (with specifics about BAL, age etc.).

“public intoxication” is against the law in some places, generally, you have to be doing something to gain attention first - the police generally don’t administer sobriety tests to people walking along minding their own business. But pass out on the park bench? You can be arrested.

Private homes, if there’s been an noise complaint for example, or a complaint or tip that underage drinking is going on, they can come to the door. If there’s a warrant issued, cops may enter. No warrant, they have to either be allowed/invited in or observe some evidence of criminal activity (for example they see behind you through the open door some one who appears to be a child chugging a brew).

Generalities. Trust me, if I’ve learned one thing it’s to check the specific laws in the area I’m planning on being in, so if you’re planning a little “party” call ahead…

The most insane (well, one of the most insane) alcohol laws is the “open-container law”. In some jurisdictions, you can be arrested for having an open container of an alcoholic beverage in a public place, regardless of whether you’re in a vehicle, and regardless of whether you are actually drunk, and regarless of your age. Strictly interpreted, this would make drinking a can of beer or a glass of wine with your picnic illegal.

This is true in Texas where alcohol is not allowed in some parks or at some beaches. The cops will typically just tell you it is not allowed and to put it away, rather than fine you.

It also makes it nice, such as in Galveston, for trendy restaurants to thrive along the seawall.

This is pretty ridiculous, but the aim isn’t to snag people who are enjoying some wine with their picnics. Its intent is to stop derelicts and such from just getting plastered on the streets. This is where the “brown bag” idea came from; supposedly, at one time, it wasn’t considered an open container if you hid the bottle in a brown paper bag. Why this loophole ever worked is beyond me; I seriously doubt NYC police would cut you slack if you stashed your St. Ides Malt Liquor in a bag and claimed immunity to the open container laws.

No, but I would imagine that the police need a reason to examine the contents of a brown bag without a warrant. Fourth Ammendment and all that.

From what I’ve been able to gather, in L.A. (and perhaps all of CA), cafes cannot serve alcohol outdoors unless food is also consumed.

The most stupid alcohol law was recently started in Pacific Grove, California.

Basically it states if a minor is drinking alcohol in public
they are fined LESS than if they are caught drinking alcohol in a house. Yeppers.

BTW, I recently asked a lawyer in Pacific Grove, she is president of the Girl Scouts too, if that law means that minors could be arrested by the police for having communion wine at a PG church. She said no. That would be pretty interesting to see though.

Here in Virginia, you can only drink in public in a physically defined area that has a permit. At an outdoor picnic with a permit, you must have a roped-off area in which to drink.

I once was on a street-front patio of a bar drinking a beer. A friend I wanted to talk to was on the opposite side. I walked outside the plastic chain and around the patio until I was next to her. The waitress soon came out and saw me. She warned me that I could only legally drink within the chain. So I stepped over the chain, placing my feet exactly where they’d been, but now the chain was against the back of my legs. “That’s better,” she replied.

Those open container laws do seem crazy.
Does anybody else know anything concerning the OP about passengers who are intoxicated?

Re: Intoxicated Passengers

In Texas, in the 1980’s, a bunch of us were heading home from a bar, and passed a cop who had somebody pulled over.

As we passed, I yelled out SOOOOWEEEEE! (I know, but I was young, stupid, and wasted)

Well, he immediately came after us and pulled us over. After getting everyone out of the car, doing the ID thing and saying “If y’all don’t tell me who yelled that crap, yer all goin to jail!” I confessed. He let everyone else go, and took me to jail for public intoxication. I had to spend the night and pay 50 bucks for being an idiot.

I’ve always wondered if the original guy he pulled over got a break.

Pardon the slight hijack.