Intoxicated Man Arrested Near Zion for Impersonating a Police Officer

An intoxicated man was arrested near Zion National Park for impersonating a police officer after he used a fake badge to obtain access to a hotel pool.

Hotel patrons only

Photo by: M01229

Earlier this month a Best Western hotel employee in Springdale, Utah contacted police after being approached by a man claiming to be a police officer. The hotel employee stated that a man impersonating a police officer was notably intoxicated and was asking for access to the pool area which is reserved for hotel patrons only. The man allegedly told the hotel employee that he was a police officer and needed access to the pool and a few towels in order to arrest someone. He then went back out to his vehicle that closely resembled typical police vehicles. The employee didn’t buy his story, and instead called police on the man impersonating a police officer.

Impersonating a police officer

26 year old Alexander Anthony Buzz was arrested on multiple charges including intoxication, possession of a weapon while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and impersonating a police officer. Utah Code 76-8-512 states regarding impersonating a police officer, that “a person is guilty of a class B misdemeanor who:

(1) Impersonates a public servant or a peace officer with intent to deceive another or with intent to induce another to submit to his pretended official authority or to rely upon his pretended official act;

(2) Falsely states he is a public servant or a peace officer with intent to deceive another or to induce another to submit to his pretended official authority or to rely upon his pretended official act; or

(3) Displays or possesses without authority any badge, identification card, other form of identification, any restraint device, or the uniform of any state or local governmental entity, or a reasonable facsimile of any of these items, with the intent to deceive another or with the intent to induce another to submit to his pretended official authority or to rely upon his pretended official act.”

There is no law against dressing up like an officer otherwise many children would be in trouble during Halloween time. The problem comes when a person not only dresses or behaves like an officer, but also tries to act like a member of law enforcement with the “. . . intent to deceive another”.

Drunken defense

Photo by: Rickard Riley

While many people have made some questionable decisions while intoxicated, impersonating an officer is probably up there with some of the more irresponsible things to do. Although many bad decisions made while drunk a person wouldn’t make sober, being intoxicated is not a defense to a crime. According to Utah Code 76-2-306, “Voluntary intoxication is not a defense to a criminal charge unless such intoxication negates the existence of the mental state which is an element of the offense. If recklessness or criminal negligence establishes an element of an offense and the actor is unaware of the risk because of voluntary intoxication, his unawareness is immaterial in a prosecution for that offense.”

Designated driver and friend

Both Buzz and the driver of the vehicle with him were both “buzzed” and were obviously not helping each other to make good choices. Anyone who plans on consuming alcohol should ensure prior to drinking that they have a designated driver. Not only can this sober individual protect their friends and other drivers on the road but they may come in handy to prevent those foolishly drunken ideas from becoming a reality. For more information on charges acquired while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, make the responsible choice by calling a qualified attorney.

Public Intoxication on Private Property

They who stroll around town belligerently drunk risk being arrested for public intoxication, but what if they are on their own private property?

Photo by: harlandspinksphoto

Photo by: harlandspinksphoto

Public intoxication defined

Utah Code 76-9-701 states “A person is guilty of [public] intoxication if the person is under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or any substance having the property of releasing toxic vapors, to a degree that the person may endanger the person or another, in a public place or in a private place where the person unreasonably disturbs other persons.”

Loud drunks

If someone is intoxicated on their private property but is being loud enough to disturb their neighbors, they can be charged with public intoxication. What about those who wish to drink quietly in their front yard, never disturbing others? This is a gray area which a few have fought in court and won recently. There are a couple ways to help in prevent cases such as these.

Fenced private property with signs

If the general public can enter a yard or porch without having to open a gate, many law enforcement officers agree that the property therefore becomes public, since anyone can access it. If a fence with a gate is placed around the property with signs stating that it is private, that can help distinguish the property as not being public, and can make public intoxication charges harder to stick.

Keep it down

Even if a yard is fenced, a loud party with several drunken friends is likely to get the police called. By keeping things quiet, those in a party who venture outside to possibly have a smoke or to get some fresh air will be noticed less by neighbors. For those facing public intoxication while they were on their own private property, contact a criminal defense attorney to discuss if the charges are just.