Can You Drink While You’re Out on Bail?

beerBeing released on bail from pretrial detention comes with the primary condition that you attend your scheduled court hearings. This is, after all the primary reason for bail – to ensure that a defendant in a criminal charge, even if they may be released on bail, will still be there to present his case, defend himself, and when found guilty, to answer for his actions.

But while the primary condition is court attendance, it sometimes happens that a judge adds other conditions to a defendant’s bail. Sometimes, this includes a prohibition on drinking. If you are out on bail, you might be wondering if you can legally still drink alcohol? The easy answer is that it depends.

drunkThe reason why judges include a prohibition on drinking as a bail condition for some defendants is that the criminal charges they are facing may involve or have been precipitated by the drinking of alcohol or intoxication. For instance, drinking under the influence or drinking while intoxicated, drinking which precipitates acts of aggression or assault against other persons, drinking which may be a catalyst for domestic violence – in all of these instances, being intoxicated was a determining factor in the facts of the case. A judge, therefore, who allows the defendant to be released from detention on bail could determine that the defendant has a drinking problem.  Therefore, the judge may also add the condition that drinking alcohol is a violation of bail and warrants re-arrest.

A judge can certainly do this if, in his determination, the defendant being intoxicated constitutes a danger to himself and the public, in which case simply letting the defendant go on bail without these kinds of limitations would only endanger public safety, and might lead to the defendant committing more alcohol-related crimes.

If it is obvious that drinking is an addiction that a defendant is struggling with, a judge may order the additional condition of either or both a prohibition on drinking and seeking help with drinking, which may involve attending a remedial treatment or program.

If on the other hand, no alcohol was involved in the facts of the case leading to the criminal charges against you, and the defendant has no demonstrable problem with alcohol or drinking, then there is no reason whatsoever why a judge would prohibit the drinking of alcohol while out on bail. It all depends upon the terms of the judgment on bail and any conditions about drinking which may or may not attach to it.

The typical effect or consequence of a violation of bail and any of its conditions is usually a cancellation of bail, which usually means the issuance of a warrant for the re-arrest of the defendant. The amount of bail posted, whether it is a cash bond or a surety bond filed by a bail bondsman, the court will deem to be forfeit. If it is a surety bail, the bail bondsman will then have recourse against the defendant and any collateral he may have put up as additional security. And this is true even if the defendant did not jump bail and has adhered to all the other conditions of his bail.