The Intoxication Defense In New Jersey
Self-Induced Intoxication and RecklessnessWhen recklessness establishes an element of the offense, and a risk occurs that the person would have been aware of if they had not been intoxicated, self-induced intoxication does not reduce or mitigate the unawareness of the risk. Put another way, a risk of injury or harm occurs, you are drunk, if you were not drunk you would have been aware of the risk, and you are therefore not excused from failing to observe the risk just because you were drunk. Put simply, being drunk because you decided to drink is not a defense.
Non Self-Induced Intoxication; and, Pathological IntoxicationBoth Non Self-Induced Intoxication; and, Pathological Intoxication can establish an affirmative defense in NJ if, because of the intoxication, you did not know the nature and quality of the act you were doing, or, that it was wrong to do the act. This type of affirmative defense must be proven by the defense, by an evidentiary standard called 'clear and convincing' evidence. Both of these types of defenses require you to establish that there was no way for you to know what the effect of the substance you were drinking would have on you. As an example, prior to the incident, you had never drank any alcoholic beverage, ever. You have a Martini, or someone slips you a drink that has been tampered with and go out of control, with no conscious knowledge of what you are doing, which is sometimes called being 'blind-drunk'. Once this happened the first time, and you subsequently do this again a second time, it is now considered voluntary intoxication, not pathological intoxication.