PHOENIX — Being drunk in public is not a crime, no matter what local officials may conclude, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.
In a unanimous decision, the judges barred Scottsdale from enforcing its law making it illegal for someone to be in public while “under the influence of alcohol” or other drugs. The judges said that violates of a conscious decision by the Legislature to treat alcoholism as a disease, not a crime.
A 1972 state law decriminalized the concept of being drunk in public. The only exceptions were people engaged in specific activities, such as driving vehicles or operating machinery.
Scottsdale City Attorney Bruce Washburn said his office has not decided whether to appeal, but he is instructing police to immediately stop enforcement.