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Being drunk in public is legal?

Arizona law prohibits arrests for being drunk in public?

Judge says Arizona state law prohibits arrests for being drunk in public?

I think it is silly to arrest people for being drunk in public. Just because a person is drunk doesn't make them a criminal.

On the other hand the article says that if drunks are being jerks they can still be arrested for disorderly conduct. And of course when a drunk is being a jerk that is the problem, not the fact that the person is drunk.

I think this is the Arizona law that applys:

ARS 36-2031

36-2031. Criminal laws limitations

A. No county, municipality or other political subdivision may adopt or enforce any local law, ordinance, resolution or rule having the force of law that includes being a common drunkard or being found in an intoxicated condition as one of the elements of the offense giving rise to criminal or civil penalty or sanctions, but nothing in this article shall affect any laws, ordinances, resolutions or rules against drunken driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or other similar offenses involving the operation of vehicles, aircraft, boats, machinery or other equipment, or regarding the sale, purchase, dispensing, possessing or using of alcoholic beverages at stated times and places or by particular classes of persons.

B. No county, municipality or other political subdivision may interpret or apply any law of general application to circumvent the provision of subsection A.


Ruling on public drunkenness draws fire

Scottsdale judge says state law prohibits arrests

by Beth Duckett - Feb. 6, 2012 09:22 PM

The Republic |

A recent court ruling barring Scottsdale police from arresting rowdy drunk people in public has drawn a spotlight on a decades-old Arizona law that says cities and towns cannot enforce their own drunken-behavior laws.

The Dec. 20 ruling from Scottsdale City Judge James Blake has prompted residents, police officials and lawmakers to explore ways to counteract the ruling, which could open the door for local governments to adopt and enforce their own laws on public drunkenness.

Blake ruled that Scottsdale's code governing drunkenness is in violation of a state law that took effect in 1974, barring counties and municipalities from adopting or enforcing local laws related to intoxication.

Scottsdale is appealing the ruling. For now, police officers can no longer arrest or cite people heavily under the influence of alcohol in public when they pose a danger to themselves or others.

Municipal concerns

Ken Strobeck, executive director of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, said local enforcement of drunkenness has been on the radar of several Arizona communities, particularly Winslow, Holbrook and Page, which are concerned about inebriated people on their streets.

Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, sponsored a bill this session that would have addressed some of the concerns.

Allen decided to hold off on a Senate committee vote on the bill after opponents brought up concerns.

Senate Bill 1082 proposes to, among other things, allow cities and counties to regulate drive-through liquor sales and the sales of beer in containers that are 40 ounces or larger.

"I'm still working on the bill -- it isn't dead," said Allen, who called it "wrong" not to allow communities to "solve particular local problems."

In 2011, Allen sponsored Senate Bill 1177 that would have allowed municipalities to adopt and enforce their own intoxication laws. Senate leadership never scheduled it for a vote of the full Senate.

According to the Scottsdale city attorney, the ruling does not reverse prior convictions for public intoxication.

In a city known for its booming nightlife, neighbors and business owners are concerned that the ruling makes it harder for law enforcement to crack down on overly drunk revelers in the city's downtown-entertainment district.

The district, east of Scottsdale Road and south of Camelback Road, is heavily populated with nightclubs and bars, drawing revelers from across the Valley and from out of town.

"It would be a giant step backwards for our public-safety programs," said Bill Crawford, a downtown resident and business owner who is president of the Association to Preserve Downtown Scottsdale's Quality of Life.

Phoenix's outlook

Phoenix spokeswoman Toni Maccarone said the city has a drunk-and-disorderly ordinance, which makes it a misdemeanor to be in a public place, street, alley or sidewalk in a drunk or disorderly condition.

City officials were not immediately available to comment on the state law's effects on Phoenix's ordinance.

Scottsdale's code on public drunkenness has been a "huge tool, especially in the downtown area," said Jim Hill, president of the Police Officers of Scottsdale Association.

Sgt. Mark Clark, a Scottsdale police spokesman, said officers will not ignore people who are inebriated and pose a danger to themselves or others. Because disorderly-conduct and other laws still apply, officers can cite and arrest drunks if they are a nuisance, he noted.

"We're still concerned about the intoxicated people in the neighborhood," Clark said. "We'll still respond."

Republic reporter Ofelia Madrid contributed to this article.



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