There are numerous legal debates about mistakes you can make carrying a handgun for personal protection. For instance, in a metropolitan community and dense urban area, an argument can be made that open carry and certain body movements in conjunction are intimidation or brandishing? Is leaving a carry gun at a restaurant or in a bathroom such that it makes a person subject to criminal charge (or civil liability)?
These questions have one clear legal answer: it “depends”. That said, in numerous cases over the years we have observed one single factor that has eroded, damaged or criminalized what may have been lawful acts by gun owners—alcohol. In self-defense cases, accidental discharges and leaving or dropping a firearm, charges have been brought—sometimes where they may not have been, and convictions had—because of the presence of alcohol or determination alcohol was in someone’s bloodstream.
Why? Most importantly, alcohol is a drug and one singled out (like many illicit drugs) by society as reason for social decay. This is reflected in the lowering of the blood alcohol content (BAC) to determine “drunk” driving. Add to this societal view against alcohol as an evil (and sometimes guns), with the factual situations just posed, and what may be viewed as an otherwise imprudent act by a gun owner, the questions abound and may tilt to criminality.
Think about the questions the police, prosecutor, judge or jury will consider: Was the gun owner really in fear for his life or serious bodily injury when he exercised deadly force, or, was he drunk? Would there have been an accidental discharge if the person did have alcohol in his or her system?
Since some individuals have a significant sensitivity (or tolerance) for alcohol that cannot be readily established by a scientific test, having any alcohol in your system may remove your believability to prosecutor who has to determine to charge you and a judge or jury in considering your case (read fate). Certainly a judge or jury is not going to be sympathetic to a defendant who claims a drink or two has no impact on his or her mental capacity and his/her acts were justified.
So the moral of the story is alcohol and guns don’t mix. If you are hunting to carrying a handgun for self-defense (which anecdotal evidence suggest is the most common situation where this arises), avoid alcohol or a firearm until there is absolutely no alcohol in your system. The best measure is to allow a full 24 hours to pass from the last consumption. If not, you may be betting your future on it—your freedom by incarceration and your money by civil suit.
This blog post was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle gun and firearms related cases, including criminal and civil defense throughout the state of Indiana. This blog is intended for informational purposes only and is not meant to be legal advice or a solicitation for services. This is an advertisement.