Intoxication and Sentencing

By Carly Lightowlers
Alcohol and drug related offending present a perennial criminal justice challenge. Not only are illicit drug and alcohol use associated with offences where intoxication is an element of the offence, such as driving under the influence, but intoxication is a contributory factor in many crimes (Lightowlers and Pina-Sánchez 2017). Indeed, in 2019/20, alcohol intoxication was believed present in as many as two in every five (42%) violent crimes and drug intoxication in around three in ten (29%) such offences (Stripe 2020).
Moreover, intoxication is the most common aggravating factor in assault offences in England and Wales (Lightowlers and Pina-Sánchez 2017) and many convicted for offences were under the influence of alcohol or drugs or were assessed as having a substance use problem (Prison Reform Trust 2017). However, the relationships between substances and offence types vary.
Alcohol intoxication is known to be strongly associated with violent offences (Parker and Auerhahn 1998), whilst drugs are more commonly associated with acquisitive or property offences (Bennett and Holloway 2004; Leidenfrost et al. 2017).
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