DES MOINES, Iowa, June 13 (UPI) -- The Iowa Supreme Court said it is legal to be drunk on the porch of a private home, overturning the conviction of a woman convicted of public intoxication while standing on her front steps.
Justices rejected a 2013 lower court decision that a front porch was a public place because it was plainly accessible and visible.
"If the front stairs of a single-family residence are always a public place, it would be a crime to sit there calmly on a breezy summer day and sip a mojito, celebrate a professional achievement with a mixed drink of choice or even baste meat on the grill with a bourbon-infused barbeque sauce -- unless one first obtained a liquor license," Justice Daryl Hecht wrote in the court's unanimous opinion. "We do not think the legislature intended Iowa law to be so heavy-handed."
Patience Paye, 29, of Waterloo, Iowa was arrested in June 2013 on a public intoxication charge after she reported a domestic violence incident at her home. Payne had stepped outside on the porch when police arrived because she didn't want to upset her children.
In the Supreme Court ruling, justices noted that Iowa is among a handful of states that criminalizes public drunkenness. States that include North Carolina, North Dakota and Montana prohibit a person from being prosecuted solely on a public intoxication charge.