Thursday, May 8, 2014

Punk in Drublic (apologies to NOFX)

The Arizona Republic has a story about a recent ruling by the Arizona Court of Appeals that overturned a Scottsdale, Arizona ordinance that prohibited being drunk in public. The ruling is here. Why can't the city ban being drunk in public? Because it turns out that an Arizona state law prevents local governments (counties, municipalities, or "other" political subdivisions) from adopting or enforce any local law, ordinance or resolution includes "being a common drunkard or being found in an intoxicated condition" as one of the elements of a criminal offense. The state law has been on the books for over 40 years. 
Before you start thinking that you should do hop a plane to Phoenix, rent a car,  do some J├Ągerbombs, and drive around, the state law does not apply to laws prohibiting driving under the influence. 

I did not know it before reading the article but Scottsdale is apparently a place people go to get their drink on. According to Bill Crawford, who is running for a seat on the Scottsdale City Council, drunken people are "everywhere" once the bars close. The Republic quotes Mr. Crawford as saying that drunken patrons are "wandering into the neighborhoods, running into cars, vomiting on the streets, and creating a problem for law enforcement." The article notes that Scottsdale police issued 600 citations for public intoxication in the last 12 months. That is roughly 12 a weekend. Whether you consider that a lot I suppose depends on your perspective.    

Mr. Torvik, you have written several posts on crazy ordinances, should we include laws prohibiting public drunkenness on the list? Does 12 citations a weekend support Mr. Crawford's apparent contention that  Scottsdale becomes a dystopian nightmare during what Frank Sinatra called "the wee small hours?" I see that the Scottsdale City Attorney has not decided whether the city will appeal the decision to the Arizona Supreme Court. That being case, how soon can we make it out there for some first-person research? 


  1. I think we should head out there next winter.

    A good friend of mine is a doctor who did his residency at Arizona in Tucson, and I went out to visit him back in the day. I do remember going out for dinner and a couple of drinks downtown, and the scene was quite impressively chaotic.

    Relatedly, I would recommend that any young man consider going to the University of Arizona for college. Excellent scenery.

  2. As to the question about the ordinance, and the state law ...

    I tend to take the view that we should aim our laws at conduct rather than mere mental states (such as intoxication). Drunks will be drunks, of course, and you can always pick em up for jaywalking or what have you. Maybe even for dancing in the street.


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