Can You Get Arrested Just Walking Home After Drinking at a Party?
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In March of 2006, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission along with TABC agents and Irving Texas police swept through 36 bars and arrested about 30 people on charges of public intoxication. This was supposed to be a proactive measure to curtail drunken driving. At one location, agents and police arrested patrons at a hotel bar even though some of the suspects said that they were staying at the hotel and had no intention of driving. Arresting authorities said the patrons were a danger to themselves and others. According to the TABC officials, the strategy was aimed at saving lives. Apparently, designated drivers, calling a taxi or walking home now means you can be arrested as a potential drunk driver, even when you don’t have a car.
Hauled in For Drunk in Public (DIP)
In July of 2006, a Southern California native was quite inebriated on a Friday evening out with friends and so he decided to walk home rather than take any risks and drive. Thinking he was being responsible since he was only six blocks from his home, he was in for a big surprised when he was stopped while walking by Orange County Police. He was hauled into the station for DIP (drunk in public). Even though he told the police officer he was just blocks from his home and he was trying to do the right thing by walking, it made no difference.
Walking Home Drunk is No Longer Safe
Evidently, walking home after drinking is no longer a safe measure. Even if you call a cab and leave your car, you take the chance of having your car towed away, which has been happening more frequently. What is a person to do? Nowadays, once you leave a bar, you’re vulnerable to being arrested for public drunkenness. Naturally, there are times when public drunk arrests are appropriate, such as when someone is behaving badly, causing a scene, fighting, throwing things, etc. But if someone is simply walking home and not bothering anyone, does it makes sense to arrest them?
What Qualifies as Public Drunkenness
When it comes to what qualifies as public drunkenness, we realize that a police officer is watching out for the smell of alcohol on a person’s breath, slurred speech and a staggered walk. According to the police, these observations are left up to the officer’s discretion. And yes, it is clear that the police are trying to protect people, but what kind of protection is it when we make it a law to arrest people when they are walking home. We don’t stop selling alcohol, so how can we expect someone to drink and get home safely if they can’t even walk themselves home?
Should the Police Arrest Someone That Is Walking Home Drunk?
I’m not faulting the police for watching out for people, because that’s their job. But it does seem wrong that if you are not creating noise, smashing things, or doing things that are disturbing, that you can be arrested. If someone is simply walking home, it makes no sense that a police officer should stop and arrest him or her. Bear in mind, if someone is aggressive, they don’t belong on the street, but if after spending a night out with friends, a person is walking home quietly, that is not a cause for being arrested. If we want people to be responsible and take cabs or walk home, after becoming inebriated, especially when they aren’t doing anything to disturb the peace, arresting them for walking home will only encourage them to get in their cars and drive drunk. Wouldn’t that be defeating the purpose of DUI laws?