Staff Columnist

Public intoxication is a fake crime

Iowa City's highly circulated arrest report is a reminder of silly alcohol laws

Washington Street is filled with people during at the Downtown Block Party in Iowa City on Saturday, June 24, 2017. The first annual block party drew crowds in the hundreds to downtown Iowa City for music, games, art and food. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Washington Street is filled with people during at the Downtown Block Party in Iowa City on Saturday, June 24, 2017. The first annual block party drew crowds in the hundreds to downtown Iowa City for music, games, art and food. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Iowa’s biggest crime story of the week shouldn’t be a story at all. In fact, the crime in question shouldn’t even be a crime.

Hawkeye football player Brady Reiff was arrested this past weekend after he reportedly mistook a UI police cruiser as an Uber vehicle and attempted to open the passenger door. Reiff was charged with public intoxication, booked in the Johnson County Jail and released several hours later. News reports on the arrest have garnered thousands of shares across the internet.

It seems obvious Reiff was impaired, but it’s also clear he was trying to get home safely. There’s no evidence in the police complaint that he threatened the safety of anyone around him.

Public intoxication is a fake crime, totally superfluous, since vandalism, harassment, disorderly conduct and interference with official acts are already separate crimes. If someone can’t be charged with one of those, they don’t need to be charged with anything.

In contrast, when RAGBRAI rolls into town this week, visitors — most of them older than college football players — will be allowed to carry open alcohol containers in certain city streets. I guess one man’s public intoxication is another man’s economic development strategy.

• Comments: (319) 339-3156; adam.sullivan@thegazette.com

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