(redirected from pathological intoxication)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Encyclopedia.


A state in which a person's normal capacity to act or reason is inhibited by alcohol or drugs.

Generally, an intoxicated person is incapable of acting as an ordinary prudent and cautious person would act under similar conditions. In recognition of this factor, the law may allow intoxication to be used as a defense to certain crimes. In many jurisdictions, intoxication is a defense to specific-intent crimes. The underlying rationale is that the intoxicated individual cannot possess the requisite mental state necessary to establish the offense.

Other jurisdictions recognize it as a defense to general-intent crimes as well. For example, although rape is commonly considered a general-intent crime, there are states in which extreme intoxication may be alleged as a defense. It is unlikely, however, that the defense will be successful in such cases absent proof that the defendant was so intoxicated that he or she could not form the intent to have intercourse.

In Homicide cases, intoxication is relevant to negate premeditation and deliberation necessary for first-degree murder. When the defense is successfully interposed, it will reduce a charge of first-degree murder to second-degree murder.

When a person is forced to consume an intoxicant against his or her will, the person is involuntarily intoxicated. In most jurisdictions, the defense of involuntary intoxication is treated similarly to the Insanity Defense. For example, an intoxicated person who cannot distinguish right from wrong at the time of committing the wrongful act would have a valid defense.


n. 1) the condition of being drunk as the result of drinking alcoholic beverages and/or use of narcotics. In the eyes of the law this definition may differ depending on the situation to which it is applied. 2) In drunk driving (DUI, DWI) the standard of intoxication varies by state between .08 and .10 alcohol in the bloodstream, or a combination of alcohol and narcotics which would produce the same effect even though the amount of alcohol is below the minimum. 3) In public drunkenness the standard is subjective, meaning the person must be unable to care for himself, be dangerous to himself or others, be causing a disturbance, or refuse to leave or move along when requested. 4) Intoxication as a defense in a criminal case in which the claim is made by the defendant that he/she was too intoxicated to form an intent to commit the crime or to know what he/she was doing, the amount of intoxication is subjective but higher than for drunk driving. There is also the question if the intoxication was an intentional aforethought to the crime ("I wanted to get drunk so I had the nerve to kill her.") Thus, unintentional intoxication can show lack of capacity to form an intent and thus reduce the possible level of conviction and punishment, as from voluntary (intentional) manslaughter down to involuntary (unintentional but through a wrongful act) manslaughter. However, in vehicular manslaughter, the intoxication is an element in the crime, whether getting drunk was intentional or not, since criminal intent was not a factor. (See: vehicular manslaughter)

See: dipsomania, inebriation, passion
References in periodicals archive ?
In 1980, the authors of the DSM-III examined the research on pathological intoxication and attempted to formalize and standardize the criteria for diagnosis.
Despite its inclusion in DSM-III, the cause(s) of pathological intoxication has never been determined.
In addition to the lack of success in determining the causes of pathological intoxication, critics have made a number of arguments about why pathological intoxication is a questionable diagnosis.
65) Clinical research, which supposedly supports pathological intoxication, is not useful because the amount of alcohol used to induce the alleged state of pathological intoxication was enough to induce a state of intoxication in normal individuals and the subjects exhibited no behaviors uniquely associated with pathological intoxication.
The criticisms of pathological intoxication ultimately led the DSM-IV's task force on substance-related disorders to recommend the disorder be deleted entirely from the DSM.
DSM-IV dropped pathological intoxication as a distinct diagnosis.
Although pathological intoxication was raised as part of a criminal defense at least as early as the 1930s,73 the validity of a pathological intoxication defense was given a boost when the Model Penal Code and the first edition of the DSM recognized the concept of pathological intoxication.
78) It also fails to distinguish between pathological intoxication and low alcohol tolerance.
Two recent cases illustrate the continued appeal of using evidence of pathological intoxication as part of a criminal defense.
93) The defendant, however, produced evidence that he suffered from pathological intoxication based on the bizarre nature of the crime and the fact that defendant did not have any memory of the incident.
101) Understanding the two roles that psychiatry plays in the criminal process is important for deciding the usefulness of certain psychiatric concepts such as pathological intoxication.

Full browser ?