Walking While Drunk

A colleague of mine chooses to start her day by reviewing the list of new detainees in the Tucaloosa County Jail. As my prior work indicates – particularly my study of the race effects of Megan’s Law – I too have a passion for studying on-line databases of criminals. I thus listen closely as she describes the quirks of the daily intake. Yesterday, she discovered a gentleman who had been booked on the charge of being a Pedestrian Under the Influence of Alcohol (Alabama Code 32-5A-221). Alabama law provides that “a pedestrian who is under the influence of alcohol or any drug to a degree which renders himself a hazard shall not walk or be upon a highway.” A highway, in turn, is “the entire width between the boundary lines of every way publicly maintained when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel.” Alabama Code 32-1-1.1.

I must admit my experience with motor vehicle offenses is thin (and this offense is under the motor vehicle section of the state code), but this was the first time I’d ever encountered a Walking While Drunk statute. Turns out, they are a standard part of the Uniforn Vehicle Code. Alabama is a little tougher than the folks over at the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances. (Query: what individuals choose to join this group for $100?). The Uniform Code provision provides that pedestrians “under the influence of alcohol or any drug to a degree which renders such pedestrian a hazard shall not walk or be upon a highway except on a sidewalk.” Alabama has no sidewalk exception.

It looks to me like there might be cases where a sidewalk is part of a highway (i.e., where it is a publicly maintained sidewalk within the boundary way. I’m thinking, for example, of sidewalks on bridges, and perhaps along parks.) In addition, since most Alabma roads are sidewalk-free, pedestrians must often walk on the shoulder. I know it may be a bit of a hazard, sometimes, but I suspect we’d prefer our local drunks to walk, rather than drive, home. Personally, I’ll think twice before I quaff a couple of Guinnesses (Rick Garnett has linked to an attractive establishment for this purpose) and stroll back to my humble abode. At minimum, I’ll try to stumble along privately maintained sidewalks.

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2 Responses

  1. Christine says:

    What about public intoxication statutes? You could just be standing. I’m on the admissions committee, and I’ve seen a lot of files with public intoxication citations. And, they are usually accompanied by the explanation of “we chose to walk back to the dorm rather than drive.”

  2. William Wall says:

    I was walking back from a restruant on the sidewalk of a highway, I was drunk. I was then stopped by a Banks County officer in GA. I was then arrested and taking to jail after being denied transportation where I needed. I was arrested for OCGA 40-6-95, and now Have to report back to GA to defend myself, when I live over 700 miles away.

    I feel this kind of treatment is beyond me, I understand if your stumbling into traffic, But I was very stable on the sidewalk and was taking every precaution. I don’t know how many people I saw left that restruant drunk then drove away.

    This kind of treatment by the state makes more people think about driving away than walking. Your more likely to be stopped and questioned while walking.