Is Public Intoxication Technically Illegal in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts has a long history with alcohol. Taverns in the Commonwealth date back to the colonial era with many historians agreeing that these town water holes popped up from the very moment settlers set foot on land. An article from Boston.com reminds us that "this nation was founded by people who transported barrels of beer, rather than water" on their trans-Atlantic voyage.
Modern-day Massachusetts, like the rest of the United States, still has a healthy, or rather unhealthy, relationship with alcohol. It's safe to say the nation is obsessed. Not to say that there aren't plenty of adults out there who use alcohol responsibly, but we've all seen it go wrong.
Because of the love affair that Massachusetts has with alcohol, there are plenty of laws surrounding consumption. In fact, Massachusetts is a lot stricter than most other states when it comes to alcohol regulations. In 2013, Time Magazine named Massachusetts the second-worst state to drink, ranking it just behind Utah's strong religious culture which flat out bans booze in some places.
Massachusetts is well-known for its many colleges and universities, but the state’s laws seemed aimed at preventing these students from having very much fun. Out of state drivers licenses aren’t acceptable proofs of age under state law, meaning that out-of-state visitors can get turned away from bars. Bars are also prohibited from allowing drinking games on their premises, and perhaps worst of all, happy hours are banned state wide.
Time Magezine, 2013
So how about the most basic of laws regarding alcohol, Public Intoxication? I always thought being drunk in public was illegal in Massachusetts, but it turns out, that's actually not the case.
Being drunk in public is not a crime in Massachusetts. Whether or not you're walking down the street or attending a football game, you can totally be intoxicated in public that's not illegal, but your level of intoxication can still get you in trouble.
In 1971, Massachusetts instated the state adopted the Protective Custody Law, which allows police to detain people they deem incapacitated because of alcohol consumption.
The law describes this as “unconscious, needing medical attention, or likely to cause harm to themselves or property.’’ Officers can hold people for up to 12 hours or until they’re no longer drunk, whichever comes first.
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