Can a drunk legally sign any document?

Asked about 1 year ago - Salt Lake City, UT

Can a drunk legally sign any document? Like bank account, rent and so on

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Waine C Riches

    Contributor Level 11

    1

    Lawyer agrees

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    Answered . The issue isn't whether a person is thought of as "a drunk," meaning that they may have an addiction to alcohol, or potentially other substances. The issue is whether he or she is legally competent at the time he or she signs a contract.

    As a general rule, a person is legally competent if they understand the nature and effect of the act and the business being transacted. With regards to a contract, the person would need to comprehend the nature and consequences of the contract they are signing, that is, they are legally competent to sign the contract so long as they understand the meaning and effect of the words comprising the contract.

    Having said that, most courts refuse to void a contract if someone is voluntarily intoxicated at the time they sign it. Courts will be far more likely to void it if the other party knew of the intoxication and took advantage of the situation. The clearest case for voiding a contract is if the other party did something to cause the intoxication as a means of taking advantage of the intoxicated person.

    With regards to someone who has a substance addition, while legal incompetency can be caused by substance addiction and other mental health problems, it doesn't necessarily follow that someone with substance addiction or other mental health problems is legally incompetent. A person with a substance addiction may be perfectly sober at the time they sign a contract or other legal transaction.

    If a guardian or conservator has been appointed to someone with a substance addiction, then the probate court has determined that this person is not legally competent to contract. Most, but not all contracts will be voidable. The exception is usually necessities. The legally incompetent person will usually still be held liable for necessities.

    This area is one that people with mental disabilities and the elderly have problems with far too often. Just because someone is old, or has a mental health disability, doesn't mean they are automatically not legally competent to contract. For example, persons who are bi-polar, or have Turrets syndrome, or who have certain phobias, or other mental health problems, can be, and often are, fully aware of what they are doing with regards to entering into a lease for an apartment or a purchase agreement for an automobile. They comprehend the nature and consequences of the transaction at the time they are signing. They are therefore legally competent under the law to enter into the contract.

    With regards to the elderly, there is a handbook titled: Assessment of Older Adults with Diminished Capacity: A Handbook for Lawyers. You can find the handbook at http://www.apa.org/pi/aging/resources/guides/di... The handbook covers the general topic of legal competency for specific transactions beginning at page 5, but the information is not state specific.

    I hope this helps.

    Waine Riches

  2. Ethan Patrick Meaney

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . This isn't really a question for the DWI/DUI forum. You should contact a civil attorney for answers to your question. Good luck.

  3. Charles K. Kenyon Jr.

    Pro

    Contributor Level 19

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . It is not illegal (against the law). Police regularly have people sign documents giving up their rights while intoxicated.

    However, in a civil matter, like a lease or an installment purchase agreement, it may be voidable. This depends very much on state law. Look under capacity to contract.

    Confidential information should not be disclosed in this Internet forum. Click on the "More..." link for... more
  4. Christopher Irvin Simser

    Contributor Level 19

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Attorney Kenyon is correct.

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