Intoxication Law and Legal Definition

Intoxication is defined by state law, which varies by state, for purposes of defining drunk driving, driving while intoxicated, or driving under the influence laws. It is the condition of being drunk as the result of drinking alcoholic beverages and/or use of narcotics. The legal standard of intoxication as it applies to drunk driving (DUI, DWI) varies by state between .08 and .10 alcohol in the bloodstream, or a combination of alcohol and narcotics which would produce the same effect even though the amount of alcohol is below the minimum.

Intoxication is defined by a more subjective standard for purposes of determining public drunkenness. Public intoxication means the person must be unable to care for himself, be dangerous to himself or others, be causing a disturbance or refuse to leave or move along when requested. Intoxication may be a defense in a criminal case in which the claim is made by the defendant that he/she was too intoxicated to form an intent to commit the crime or to know what he/she was doing. Unintentional intoxication can possibly reduce the possible level of conviction and punishment for crimes in which criminal intent is a necessary element of the crime, such as reducing voluntary manslaughter down to involuntary manslaughter.