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AGLO 1972 No. 23 - April 17, 1972
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

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                                                                   April 17, 1972

Honorable Peggy Joan Maxie
State Representative, 37th District
3302 E. Pine Street
Seattle, Washington 98122                                                                                            Cite as:  AGLO 1972 No. 23 (not official)

Dear Representative Maxie:
 
            Thank you for your letter of April 10, 1972, requesting our explanation of certain aspects of chapter 122, Laws of 1972, Ex. Sess. (pertaining to alcoholism).
 
                                                                     ANALYSIS
 
            The essential answer to the underlying question which you have posed is that chapter 122, Laws of 1972, Ex. Sess., purports to do no more than to remove public intoxication itself from the realm of criminal conduct.  See, in particular §§ 1 and 19 of the act, a copy of which we are enclosing for your immediate reference.  However, nothing contained therein works in any way to remove other crimes such as murder, rape, theft, etc., from the ambit of a criminal prosecution simply because the alleged offender may have been intoxicated at the time he committed the crime with which he is charged.  In other words, the act in no way purports to establish an accused person's intoxicated condition as a defense to a crime where intoxication is not one of the elements of the offense itself.
 
            Moreover, even where drunkenness or intoxication is an element of certain crimes involving the operation of motor vehicles, aircraft, boats, machinery, etc., subsection (3) of § 10 expressly retains the enforceability of any statute or ordinance rendering this type of conduct a crime.
 
            It is hoped that the foregoing explanation of this new law will be of some assistance to you.
 
Very truly yours,
 
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
 
Philip H. Austin
Deputy Attorney General

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