Five Crimes Commonly Caused by Alcohol and Drug Abuse

About 90% of Americans drink alcohol and/or take drugs. About 14 million Americans are in treatment, have had treatment, or need treatment, for a substance abuse disorder. A criminal record that includes the offenses listed below is one of the red flags substance abuse counselors often look for when evaluating the need for treatment.

Voluntary intoxication is a legal defense to some criminal offenses. Involuntary intoxication, which could be more like unintentional intoxication, could be a legal defense or a mitigating circumstance in some situations. However, for the infractions listed below, intoxication is neither one of these things. In fact, intoxication or substance use is often a key element of the offense. Regardless of the level of substance use, a Norcross criminal defense attorney can often successfully resolve these charges.

Drug Use

Technically, it is illegal to use a controlled substance anywhere. For practical purposes, it is only illegal to use such a substance in public. It is practically impossible to obtain a drug use search warrant. It is hard enough to obtain a drug possession search warrant.

Officers often look for physical symptoms, such as glassy eyes, to ascertain drug use. Other circumstantial evidence, like drug residue or an open pill bottle, might be admissible as well. The evidence must prove guilt beyond any reasonable doubt.

The age-old “I smelled marijuana” line might no longer hold up in court. Hemp, which is physically like marijuana in every way, is legal.


Driving under the influence is the loss of normal physical or mental functions due to substance use, or a BAC level above the legal limit.

Prosecutors use circumstantial evidence to establish loss of use DUIs. The field sobriety tests, such as the walk-and-turn, normally provide such evidence. A police officer’s opinion that the defendant “failed” these tests is just that. It is just their opinion. Weaker evidence, like bloodshot eyes or slurred speech, might be admissible as well.

A breath test, or perhaps a blood test, establishes intoxication in a BAC case. The conviction rate is much higher in test cases than in non-test cases. However, no test is perfect. Breathalyzers, and to a lesser extent blood tests, have several serious flaws, which a Norcross criminal defense lawyer can exploit.

Public Intoxication

Under O.C.G.A. § 16-11-41, it is not enough to “appear in an intoxicated condition” in a public place. The defendant’s conduct must also be indecent, boisterous, profane, vulgar, loud, or unbecoming. That is a rather subjective standard. My mother believed that any four-letter word, even if only used once, was profane. Most people have a more liberal view.

Officers rarely arrest individuals for public intoxication. Generally, they put the defendant in the back of a police car for a few minutes because that’s a very sobering experience. Then, officers release the defendant with a “go forth and sin no more” advisory.


Drugs and alcohol usually lower inhibitions. Intoxicated people say and do things they would not normally do. Saying and doing abnormal things is practically the definition of an assault in Georgia. These cases are often difficult to prove in court. In most cases, the alleged victim must testify in court. Frequently, the alleged victim had been drinking or using drugs, as well.

Sexual Battery

Most sexual battery cases are acquaintance rapes. The alleged victim and defendant know each other. In most of these cases, the defendant and/or alleged victim had been drinking.

As for defendants, alcohol reduces judgment ability. Specifically, alcohol affects the risk/reward part of the brain. Drunk people cannot fully fathom the consequences of their actions. Intoxication, whether voluntary or involuntary, is never a defense, or even a mitigating circumstance, in sexual battery charges.

If the alleged victim was also drinking or using drugs, especially if that use was voluntary, the alleged victim might have credibility problems in court.

Connect With a Diligent Norcross Criminal Defense Lawyer

Substance use often directly or indirectly affects criminal cases. For a free consultation with an experienced Norcross criminal defense lawyer, contact Zimmerman & Associates, Attorneys at Law. We routinely handle matters throughout the Peachtree State.