Deadly force and alcohol


New member
I’ve always been curious about a person using deadly force after drinking alcohol. Let’s say for example a person is at home having a couple drinks and a home invasion takes place. It seems that this person would be within reason to use deadly force. However, I’m curious as to how this scenario would play out in court. Does anybody know of any situations similar to this and what the results were?

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New member
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and I do not play one on tv. Do not take this as legal advise.

First, how this plays out will depend in large part on the state where it occurs and state specific laws. The result in NJ would inevitably result in charges and an expensive and long legal battle. Utah on the other hand might not result in any charges since, as a matter of statute, anyone in the home without your permission is deemed a threat justifying deadly force response.

Having said that, in general the law upholds the right of self defense and the use of a firearm in a self defense situation even in cases where a person might be prohibited from using a firearm. For instance, a convicted felon can use a firearm to defend his/her life. This has been upheld at the federal level. So, the felon cannot possess the firearm but if one becomes available during the incident (ie dropped gun) they have the right to use it.

Following the same line of reasoning, even if a person is legally drunk and the applicable state laws state that legally drunk persons are prohibited from carrying or using firearms, the person would still have the right to use a firearm to defend their life. The tricky part is that they have the right to defend their life if they stay within the what is legally allowed. If they stray from the straight and narrow, for instance firing at a fleeing perpetrator after the immediate threat has ended, they would then face charges for using a firearm while drunk plus addition relevant charges.

So, legally you would be ok if you don't make a mistake, but you would probably faced more legal problems than normal if you do make a mistake. I would say that it is much more likely you would have to prove your innocence in court if you are drunk than if you were not, even given the same set of facts.


Active member
In South Carolina, it is a felony to discharge a firearm while under the influence of alcohol, except in self defense. If you request a breath, urine or blood test, and are not given one, you cannot be charged with a violation of this section of the law. If you are requested to take such a test and refuse, that may be used against you in any criminal proceedings.

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