At what point does a private space become a public space? Are you in public as soon as you step out the door, even if you’re on the front steps of your own home? The difference between the two constitutes a specific legal distinction—especially for raging alcoholics looking to avoid public intoxication charges.
Last week, the Iowa Supreme Court reversed a ruling in just such a case, according to The Consumerist. A woman who was arrested for being drunk in public while standing on the front steps of her home had her conviction overturned after the court ruled that the front steps of a single-family home is not a public space, even if there isn’t any sort of porch or fence to separate it from the street.
“[I]f the front stairs of a single-family residence are always a public place, it would be a crime to sit there calmly on a breezy summer day and sip a mojito, celebrate a professional achievement with a mixed drink of choice or even baste meat on the grill with a bourbon-infused barbeque sauce—unless one first obtained a liquor license,” the court concluded with an air of rationality often not seen in the American legal system. “Additionally…any intoxicated person who responsibly secures a ride home from a sober designated driver could be arrested for and convicted of public intoxication because they traversed the stairs of their single-family house while intoxicated.”