Washington Law Review


Fred A. Johnson


On January 1, 1975, the Washington State Uniform Alcoholism and Intoxication Treatment Act (the Act) became effective. It directs that treatment replace punishment as the appropriate mechanism for dealing with alcoholics and intoxicated persons. The Act repeals or amends all criminal law provisions relating to public drunkenness and mandates a comprehensive treatment program for persons with alcohol problems. This note examines the mechanics of the Washington Act and the legislative determination that alcoholism is a disease and that the drinking it induces is beyond the control of the alcoholic. Consideration is given to whether Washington law can consistently treat chronic alcoholism as a disease for purposes of dealing with the public inebriate while continuing to hold that the intoxication of an alcoholic is a voluntary condition for purposes of criminal prosecution. Finally, a rule is formulated to accommodate both the disease concept of alcoholism and principles of criminal culpability.

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