DRUNKENNESS, the mental and physical condition resulting from excessive drinking of intoxicating liquors. In law, it is not considered an absolute defense, although in some cases, de pending on'thei nattire of the act, and to what extent the person was under the influence of intoxicating drinks, the offense, when committed by a drunken man, is changed to one of less severity. The general rule is, that if a person voluntarily, by the use of intoxicating liquors, deprives himself of his reason, he cannot offer it as a defense for acts which he commits while intoxicated. If the intoxication is carried to such an extent as to be a disease, such as delir ium tremens, or mania a potu, a different ques tion is raised, and,. the first case, it will reduce the offense and in the second case there are some decisions which go so far as to hold that it is a complete defense.
The general rule is that contracts made by a person under the influence of liquor are voidable and not void; so that if a person while intox icated makes a contract under which some inno cent third person, for value, acquires rights, the contract is binding on the person making it, although he was under the influence of liquor at that time. If a person makes a contract when so far under the influence of liquor as to be de prived of his senses, and the contract is so one sided as to be unreasonable, the question of fraud may enter into the transaction. In cases where a person is tried for murder in the first degree, to prove that crime the evidence must show, according to the statute defining murder in the first degree, malice aforethought. Now
it has been held that an excessive intoxication excludes the malice and only passion is shown and the crime is reduced below murder in the first degree. But the person accused must prove intoxication to such an extent that passion and not malice will be shown. Although if a per son, while sober, makes allpreparation to take a person's life, and then, before committing the crime, becomes intoxicated, doing an act when intoxicated which he was afraid to do when sober, it would be murder in the first degree. In cases of robbery, it is presumed the goods are taken with a felonious intent, but if the accused can prove sufficient intoxication, the felonious taking is not presumed. When a person is tried for an act and the defense is provocation, the amount of provocation to make a good defense would be less when the person who gave the provocation was intoxicated than if he was sober and in his right senses. In itself drunkenness is not a legal offense, though drunken conduct in public may be a nuisance and as such is often made a statutory offense, punishable by fine or imprisonment. Ha bitual drunkenness may also render a drunk ard liable to . a judicial inquisition for the appointment of a guardian of him and his property. Such a proceeding is properly insti tuted by wife or children or next of kin on the ground of his incompetency to look after his property or manage his business AlcoHoLism ; DIPSOMANIA ; INTOXICATION ; TEM