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.
in·tox·i·cate / inˈtäksikāt/ • v. [tr.] [usu. as adj.] (intoxicated) (of alcoholic drink or a drug) cause (someone) to lose control of their faculties or behavior. ∎ poison. ∎ fig. excite or exhilarate: the team was intoxicated by the prospect of another victorious season. DERIVATIVES: in·tox·i·ca·tion / -ˌtäksiˈkāshən/ n.
in·tox·i·cat·ing / inˈtäksikāting/ • adj. (of alcoholic drink or a drug) liable to cause intoxication. ∎ fig. exhilarating or exciting: the intoxicating touch of freedom. DERIVATIVES: in·tox·i·cat·ing·ly adv.