A man that lost $500,000.00 while gambling in Las Vegas is trying to use his public intoxication as an excuse and is suing the casino to recover his losses. The man is blaming the casino for giving him free drinks, getting him drunk, and then taking his money. The man is not claiming that the casino forced him to drink but is instead arguing that it was the casino job to make sure that he drank responsibly. I think that most people would expect that a 52-year-old man would be responsible enough to know that he should not spend 17 hours drinking and gambling.
Being Drunk is Neither an Excuse nor a Defense
While the 52-year-old man is trying to use intoxication as an excuse, Pennsylvania law generally prohibits a person from using being drunk as a legal defense. More specifically section 308 of the Crimes Code expressly states that "[n]either voluntary intoxication nor voluntary drugged condition is a defense to a criminal charge, nor may evidence of such conditions be introduced to negative the element of intent of the offense."
The vast majority of crimes in State College are alcohol-related. Some offenses are obviously related to alcohol, such as DUI, Furnishing Alcohol to Minors, Underage Drinking, and Possession of a Fake ID. However, many Penn State students and visitors get into legal trouble after having a few too many beers at the bar or too many cups of Jungle Juice at a frat or apartment party. Charges of Aggravated and Simple Assault often result from male beer muscles. People that have had too much to drink often enter the wrong apartment or dorm room and face Criminal Trespass charges. Then you have charges of Criminal Mischief, which is basically causing damage to another person's property. Damage often comes in the form of vomiting or urinating in building hallways, or drunken destruction like breaking windows, vandalism, or throwing kegs off of apartment balconies.
Many of my clients are good kids that made a bad decision by having too much to drink, and the over-indulgence with the alcohol led to poor decision-making and culminated with the filing of criminal charges. Being too drunk explains why the conduct happened, but it is neither an excuse nor a defense. The Centre County District Attorney may consider drunkenness of the client as a mitigating factor in the case, but the prosecutor will not dismiss the charges because of it. I somewhat suspect that the 52-year-old's claim that it was the casino's fault and not his own that he had too much to drink may also fail in the court of law. At least my Penn State students have the excuse that they are young and dumb, but the middle-aged man clearly should have known better.