Under the Italian Penal Code (Arts. 46–49) intoxication—unless voluntarily induced so as to afford an excuse for crime—may exclude or modify responsibility.
So far only the question whether drunkenness is an excuse for offences committed under its influence has been dealt with. There remains the question how far drunkenness itself is a crime. Mere private intoxication is not, either in England or in the United States (Bishop, Crim. Law, 8th ed., i. s. 399) indictable as an offence at common law; but in all civilized countries public drunkenness is punishable when it amounts to a breach of the peace (see Liquor Laws) or contravention of public order; and modern legislation in many countries provides for deprivation of personal liberty for long periods in case of a frequent repetition of the offence. Reference may be made in this connexion to the Inebriates Acts 1898, 1899 and 1900 (see iii. inf.), and also to similar legislation in the British colonies and in foreign legal systems (e.g. Cape of Good Hope, No. 32 of 1896; Ceylon, Licensing Ordinance 1891, ss. 23, 24, 29; New South Wales, Vagrants Punishment Act 1866; Massachusetts, Acts of 1891, c. 427, 1893, cc. 414, 44; France, Law of 23rd of Jan. 1873, Art. 6).
III. State Action in Regard to Inebriety.—This assumes a variety of forms. (a) Measures regulating the punishment of occasional or habitual drunkenness by fines or short terms of imprisonment. (b) Control in penal establishments for lengthened periods. (c) Laws prohibiting the sale of liquor to persons who are known inebriates: e.g. in England (Licensing Act 1902); Ontario (Rev. Stats. 1897, c. 245, ss. 124, 125); New South Wales (Liquor Act 1898, ss. 52, 53); Cape of Good Hope (No. 28 of 1883, s. 89); New York (Rev. Stats. 1889–1892, c. 20, Title iv.); California (Act to prevent sale of liquor to drunkards, 1889); Massachusetts (Pub. Stats., ed. 1902, c. 100, s. 9). (d) Laws regulating the appointment of some person or persons to act as guardian or guardians, or who may be endowed with legal powers over the person and estate of an inebriate. Thus in France (Code Civil, Arts. 489 et seq.), Germany (Civil Code, Art. 6 (39)) and Austria-Hungary (Bürgerliches Gesetz-Buch, ss. 21, 269, 270, 273), an inebriate may be judicially interdicted if he is squandering his property and thereby exposing his family to future destitution. Provision is also made for the interdiction of inebriates by the laws of Nova Scotia (Rev. Stats. 1900, c. 126, s. 2), Manitoba (Rev. Stat. 1902, c. 103, ss. 30 et seq.), British Columbia (Rev. Stat. 1897, c. 66), New South Wales (Inebriates Act 1900, s. 5), Tasmania (Inebriates Act 1885, No. 17, s. 23); Canton of Bale (Trustee Law of the 23rd of Feb. 1880, s. II), Orange River Colony (Code Laws, c. IOS, s. 30), Maryland (Code General Laws, c. 474, s. 47). (e) Control for the purpose of reformation. Legislation of this character provides reformatory treatment: (1) for the inebriate who makes a voluntary application for admission; (2) by compulsory seclusion for the inebriate who refuses consent to treatment and yet manages to keep out of the reach of the law; (3) for the inebriate who is a police-court recidivist, or who has committed crime, caused or contributed to by drink. The legislation of the Cape of Good Hope (Inebriates Act 1896) and of North Dakota (Habitual Drunkards Act 1895) provides for the first of these methods of treatment alone. Compulsory detention for ordinary inebriates only is provided for by the laws of Delaware (Act of 1898), Massachusetts (Rev. Laws, c. 87), and of the Cantons of Berne (Law of the 24th of Nov. 1883) and Bâle (Law of the 21st of Feb. 1901). All three methods of treatment are in force in New South Wales (Inebriates Act 1900), Queensland (Inebriates Institutions Act 1896) and South Australia (Inebriates Act 1881). Provision is made only for voluntary application and compulsory detention of ordinary inebriates in Victoria (Inebriates Act 1890), Tasmania (Inebriates Act 1885; Inebriates Hospitals Act 1892) and New Zealand (Inebriates Institutions Act 1898). The legislation of the United Kingdom (Inebriates Acts 1879–1900) deals both with voluntary application and with the committal of criminal inebriates or of police-court recidivists. A brief sketch of the English system must suffice.
The Inebriates Acts of 1879–1900 deal in the first place with non-criminal, and in the second place with criminal, habitual drunkards.
For the purposes of the acts the term “ habitual drunkard ” means “ a person who, not being amenable to any jurisdiction in lunacy, is notwithstanding, by reason of habitual intemperate drinking of intoxicating liquor, at times dangerous to himself or herself, or incapable of managing himself or herself and his or her affairs.” A person would become amenable to the lunacy jurisdiction not only where habitual drunkenness made him a “ lunatic ” in the legal sense of the term, but where it created such a state of disease and consequential “ mental infirmity ” as to bring his case within section 116 of the Lunacy Act 1890, the effect of which is explained in the article Insanity. Any “ habitual drunkard ” within the above definition may obtain admission to a “ licensed retreat ” on a written application to the licensee, stating the time (the maximum period is two years) that he undertakes to remain in the retreat. The application must be accompanied by the statutory declaration of two persons that the applicant is an habitual drunkard, and its signature must be attested by a justice of the peace who has satisfied himself as to the fact, and who is required to state that the applicant understood the nature and effect of his application. Licences (each of which is subject to a duty and is impressed with a stamp of £ 5, and 10s. for every patient above ten in number) are granted for retreats by the borough council and the town clerkin boroughs, and elsewhere by the county council and the clerk of the county council. The maximum period for which a licence may be granted is two years, but licences may be renewed by the licensing authority on payment of a stamp duty of the same amount as on the original grant. When an habitual drunkard has once been committed to a retreat, he must remain in the retreat for the time that he has fixed in his application, subject to certain statutory provisions similar to those prescribed by the Lunacy Acts for asylums as to leave of absence and discharge; and he may be retaken and brought back to the retreat under a justice's warrant. The term of detention may be extended on its expiry, or an inebriate may be readmitted on a fresh application, without any statutory declaration, and without the attesting justice being required to satisfy himself that the applicant is an habitual drunkard. Licensed retreats are subject to inspection by an Inspector of Retreats appointed by the Home Secretary, to whom he makes an annual report. The Home Secretary is empowered to make rules and regulations for the management of retreats, and “ regulations and orders,” not inconsistent with such rules, are to be prepared by the licensee within a month after the granting of his licence, and submitted to the inspector for approval. The rules now in force are dated as regards (a) England, 28th Feb. 1902; (b) Scotland, 14th April 1902; (c) Ireland, 3rd Feb. 1903. There are also statutory provisions, similar to those of the Lunacy Acts, as to offences (i.) by licensees failing to comply with the requirements of the acts; (ii) by persons ill-treating patients, or helping them to escape, or unlawfully supplying them with intoxicating liquor; (iii.) by patients refusing to comply with the rules. The Home Secretary may (i.) authorize the establishment of “ State Inebriate Reformatories,” to be paid for out of moneys provided by parliament; and (ii.) sanction “ Certified Inebriates' Reformatories ” on the application of any borough or county council, or any person whatever, if satished concerning the reformatory and the persons proposing to maintain it. An Inspector of Certified Inebriate Reformatories has been appointed. Regulations for State Inebriate Reformatories and, for Certified Inebriate Reformatories have been made, dated as follows: State Inebriate Reformatories :—England, 21st of June 1901, 29th of Dec. 1903, 29th of April 1904; Scotland, 9th of March 1900; Ireland, 16th of March 1899, 16th of April 1901, 10th of Feb. 1904. Certified Inebriate Reformatories:—England, Model Regulations, 17th of Dec. 1898; Scotland, Regulations, 14th of Feb. 1899; Ireland, Model Regulations, 29th of April 1899.
Any person convicted on indictment of an offense punishable with imprisonment or penal servitude (i.e. of any non-capital