Common New Year’s Eve Crimes

Common New Year’s Eve Crimes

Seven Common New Year’s Eve Offenses

New Year’s Eve is known as a time of celebration for the passing of the old and ushering in a new season of life. The day is usually full of celebrations and reminiscences. However, while the holiday is beautiful and fun, the holiday can also have a dark undercurrent as many different crimes are often committed during the holiday. Below, we will discuss seven of the most common criminal offenses committed during New Year’s Eve.

1. Public Intoxication

During the New Year’s weekend, including on New Year’s Eve, alcohol consumption generally increases. From celebrations to binge drinking to drinking their feelings, New Year’s Eve is often a time when alcohol-related offenses, including public intoxication, occur.

The Northeast Addictions Treatment Center conducted a survey to determine just how much alcohol is consumed by the average American on New Year’s Eve. 425 men and 358 women participated in the survey, and of those participants, 253 people (i.e. 39.3% of male participants and 24% of female participants) said they drink four or more drinks on New Year’s Eve alone.

According to the CDC, binge drinking occurs when a woman consumes four or more drinks or when a man drinks five or more alcoholic beverages. Binge drinking or excessive alcohol use can cause a variety of reactions and conditions in people that vary from person to person. Excessive drinking (or smaller amounts of alcohol consumption depending on the person) can cause mental changes and/or behavioral issues, including but not limited to:

  • slurred speech,
  • memory issues,
  • loss of attention span,
  • poor judgment,
  • unstable moods,
  • poor coordination, and
  • inappropriate behavior.

In Georgia, a person can be charged with a misdemeanor if they are intoxicated in a public place or at a residence that is not their own and exhibits any of the following behaviors or actions:

  • Boisterousness
  • Use of vulgar, profane, loud, or unbecoming language
  • Any indecent act or condition

Misdemeanors are punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of no more than $1,000, or both. Working with an experienced attorney, you can work to have the charges dismissed or penalties reduced.

2. Driving Under the Influence

The National Safety Council predicts that 408 deaths will occur during the New Year’s period (December 31st- January 2nd) because of DUI-related motor vehicle collisions. As we mentioned, New Year’s Eve is a popular drinking holiday, and celebrants may drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

It is illegal to drive or “be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle” if you are under the:

  • influence of alcohol,
  • influence of any drug,
  • intentional influence of any aerosol, glue, or other toxic vapor, and/or
  • combined influence of any of the aforementioned substances to the extent that is unsafe for you to drive (i.e. having a BAC of 0.08 or more).

First-time DUIs are considered misdemeanor offenses, and the minimum penalties include 24 hours in jail and a fine of $300. Those convicted of a first-time DUI may also have to complete 40 hours of community service, a substance abuse evaluation, probation, and/or a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use course.

Second-time DUIs (committed within 10 years of the first offense) are also classified as misdemeanors. Third-time DUIs are considered high and aggravated misdemeanors, which means that the maximum fine will increase from $1,000 to $5,000. Fourth-time and subsequent DUIs are felony offenses, which are punishable by the loss or extension of the loss of your license, a fine of up to $5,000, up to five years in prison, community service, mandatory substance abuse treatment, and/or installation of an ignition interlock device.

3. Property Damage

After drinking or because of New Year’s Eve dares or activities, people may engage in acts of vandalism or property damage. You can face criminal consequences if you intentionally or recklessly cause the destruction of someone else’s property.

Under Georgia Code § 16-7-23, a person commits criminal damage to property in the second degree if they recklessly or intentionally cause damage to a property using fire or explosives or intentionally cause over $500 worth of damage to someone else’s property. This offense is punishable by one to five years of imprisonment.

Criminal damage to property in the first degree, which is punishable by one to 10 years of imprisonment, occurs when a person knowingly and without authority:

  • interferes with a property in a way that can endanger another person’s life, or
  • interferes with public communication, transportation, sewage, drainage, water support, gas, power, or other public service utility system using force or violence.

4. Auto Theft

New Year’s weekend is actually the number one time that auto thefts occur. In Georgia, motor vehicle theft falls under Georgia Code § 16-8-2, theft by taking laws. Theft by taking occurs when a person unlawfully takes passion or unlawfully appropriates ownership of someone else’s property intending to deprive the lawful owner of their property.

Penalties for theft crimes are determined based on the value of the property stolen. The breakdown is as follows:

  • Theft of a vehicle worth $1,500 or less is considered a misdemeanor, which is penalized by 12 months in jail
  • Theft of a vehicle worth between $1,500 and $5,000 is considered a wobbler felony, which can be penalized by one to five years in prison.
  • Theft of a vehicle worth $5,000-$25,000 is considered a wobbler felony, which can be penalized by one to ten years in prison.
  • Theft of a vehicle worth $25,000 or more is considered a felony, which can be penalized by two to 20 years in prison.

5. Illegal Discharge of a Firearm

In addition to setting off fireworks, some people may shoot their guns in the air as a celebration on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s. However, this practice is not only dangerous but can also be illegal. If you plan to shoot your gun during the countdown or celebration, be sure to consider where you are with respect to public areas or roadways as well as whether you have the owner’s permission.

Discharging a gun or pistol within 50 yards of a public highway or street is a misdemeanor offense. Discharging a firearm on someone else’s property without the permission of the property owner (unless you are acting in defense of the property or a person or are a law enforcement officer) is also a misdemeanor offense.

6. Trespassing

Many juveniles and young adults may trespass on properties for parties or other events. Adults may also trespass on properties because as we mentioned alcohol can cause people to lose their inhibitions. However, entering someone else’s land, vehicle, watercraft, railroad car, or other property knowingly and without the permission of the owner is illegal and is considered a misdemeanor offense (Georgia Code § 16-7-21).

7. Sexual Assault (& Other Sex Crimes)

Sexual assault legally occurs when a person physically threatens to or touches someone in a sexual manner without their consent. Research has shown that alcohol consumption can increase a person’s aggression and is associated with a loss of inhibition, which is why alcohol is also considered a contributing factor in many sexual assault cases. However, it is important to note that alcohol does not cause sexual assault.

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