In Your Corner: Designated Driver = Public Intoxication?

By WISE Web News
By Ryan Elijah

June 18, 2010 Updated Aug 11, 2008 at 11:33 AM EDT

(FORT WAYNE, IN) Indiana's NewsCenter -- After a night of drinking at a local bar, 21-year old Camden Kaczmarczyk and her 21-year old friend decided they weren't fit to drive, so they left their car and had a friend drive them home. That friend was quickly pulled over for speeding and before they knew it both Camden and her friend were on their way to jail charged with public intoxication.
Camden Kaczmarczyk- "I knew I had been drinking, but I mean, I didn't do anything wrong. I'm of age to drink, I don't understand why I was getting in trouble for this".
We obtained a detailed 3-page report of the incident from the Ashley Police Department. As it turns out, the designated driver had been drinking, according to the police report. which is something Camden says they didn't know. The driver refused a field sobriety test and according to the report was anything but cooperative. All 3 of them spent the night in jail, but only Camden and her friend have been charged so far. When they argued their case to a Steuben County judge they were referred to this law that shows it is a misdemeanor for a person to be in a public place in a state of intoxication, even if they're riding in a private vehicle.
Allen County Superior Court Judge Gull- "you're in a private vehicle, yes and you have a semblance of an expectation of privacy within your own vehicle, but not as much as you think you have. You're still being seen, there's a reason that you can be charged with public lewdness if you are in your own vehicle and you are naked".
Ryan Elijah- since Camden and her friends were traveling on state road 4, by the letter of the law they can be arrested for public intoxication, but some law enforcement officials I spoke with say they've rarely seen it enforced that way.
Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries- "I don't think it's intended for that purpose, but it can happen, a lot of it depends on the passenger that's been arrested for public intoxication. We hope people will continue to call for a designated driver and we certainly don't target passengers for consuming alcohol. It's a responsibility that we have and we take it seriously, but there are ways other than arresting people to get them to safety".
Sheriff Fries also told me there is no set standard for public intoxication, it's .08 to drive a car, but the officers discretion is used for public intoxication. We spoke to Ashley's Town Marshal Scott Barnhardt who made the arrest that night. He said he couldn't talk about the incident on camera since it was a pending case, but stressed he made the decision to arrest the two girls for their own safety. As for Camden, she was offered a deferral which will result in a 312 dollar fine, community service and an alcohol evaluation, over 3 months later, the incident still doesn't make sense to her
Camden- "It just doesn't make sense. I still don't understand what I did wrong. You can still get in trouble and that the big thing, do I still want to go out and drink or anything?"
Every official praised the girls for doing the right thing and not trying to drive home, but the case is a good reminder that you are still at risk when you are drunk, especially if you don't choose the right designated driver.
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