Blame It On the Alcohol?

Young blonde woman experiencing involuntary intoxication

Understanding the Defense of Involuntary Intoxication in North Carolina

Blame it on the goose

Got you feelin loose

Blame it on the ‘Tron

Got you in the zone

Blame it on the vodka

Blame it on the Henny

Blame it on the blue tab

Got you feelin dizzy


According to the lyrics of T-Pain’s hit Blame It on the Alcohol, alcohol can cause people to do things that they may later regret. But will this defense hold up in court?

Intoxication as a Legal Defense

Intoxication can be used as a legal defense in criminal cases when the defendant did not understand the nature of their actions or what they were doing. The intoxication defense only applies in certain limited and very specific circumstances. Its success will often depend on whether the intoxication was voluntary or involuntary and the level of intent required to sustain a criminal charge.

Involuntary Intoxication

Involuntary intoxication occurs when a person is tricked or forced into consuming drugs or alcohol. For example, someone who consumes a drink with a date rape drug placed into it is involuntarily intoxicated. Involuntary intoxication can also occur due to an allergy or the unintended effects of legal prescription medication.

The legal defense of involuntary intoxication can be used in North Carolina criminal cases when a person was involuntarily exposed to a controlled substance or was unaware that they were consuming an intoxicating substance. In these circumstances, a criminal defendant can argue that they should not be held responsible for their actions because they were not in control of their state of mind at the time of the crime.

The defense of involuntary intoxication is not available in every case and must be applied in accordance with North Carolina law. To be successful, the defendant must prove that they were unaware of the intoxicating nature of the substance and did not voluntarily consume it.

It is also important to note that the defense of involuntary intoxication is not a catch-all defense that can be used in every case. The defendant must prove that their intoxication was the direct cause of their criminal actions and that they did not have the capacity to form the intent required for the crime.

Voluntary Intoxication

Voluntary intoxication, on the other hand, is seldom a defense. If a person voluntarily consumes a controlled substance, even if they did not know it was a controlled substance, the intoxication defense will likely not apply. For example, if a person buys drugs from a dealer and consumes them, only to find out that they contained a different substance than what they expected, the defendant cannot claim involuntary intoxication if they are later charged with a crime.

Voluntary intoxication may technically be a viable legal defense when it prevents a criminal defendant from forming the criminal intent necessary to commit a crime. For example, if a defendant was accused of robbery but could not form the criminal intent necessary to commit the crime because they were intoxicated, the defendant could argue that they should not be convicted because the prosecution cannot establish the intent element.

But in reality, a jury is unlikely to accept a defense of voluntary intoxication when the defendant brought the intoxication upon themselves. In some instances, a claim of voluntary intoxication will not completely absolve a defendant but could be used to reduce the defendant’s culpability for the crime. For example, a defendant might be able to negotiate a plea to a lesser offense if they can prove that the intoxication limited their intent or ability to comprehend that their activity was criminal.

Contact the Stowe Law Firm, PLLC, to Evaluate an Intoxication Defense

Involuntary intoxication can be a valuable defense for people facing criminal charges in North Carolina. But it is only available in limited circumstances, and the defendant must prove that they were unaware of the intoxicating nature of the substance and that their intoxication was the direct cause of their criminal actions.

If you have been accused of a crime in North Carolina and believe that intoxication might be a defense, contact the Stowe Law Firm, PLLC, to discuss your situation and evaluate whether the intoxication defense might apply.

The Stowe Law Firm is based in Salisbury, North Carolina, and proudly represents people in Rowan County, Davidson County, Cabarrus County, and Stanly County.

Categories: DWI, Pop Culture