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AMI 606 Intoxication—Definition

Arkansas Supreme Court Committee On Jury Instructions-Civil

Ark. Model Jury Instr., Civil AMI 606
Arkansas Model Jury Instructions-Civil
November 2021 Update
Arkansas Supreme Court Committee On Jury Instructions-Civil
Chapter 6. Specific Factors Affecting Negligence and Defenses
AMI 606 Intoxication—Definition
A person is intoxicated when [he][she] is influenced or affected by the ingestion of alcohol, a controlled substance, any intoxicant, or combination thereof, to such a degree that [his][her] reactions, motor skills, and judgment are substantially altered and, as a result, [he][she] constitutes a clear and substantial danger of physical injury or death to [himself][herself] and others.
COMMENT
This instruction is based on the current statutory definition of “intoxication” set forth in the chapter of the Arkansas Criminal Code concerning driving while intoxicated, Ark. Code Ann. § 5-65-102. Upon review, the Committee concluded that the previous AMI 606 required updating. That language tracked the definition approved in a prosecution for driving while intoxicated, Jones v. Forrest City, 239 Ark. 211, 218, 388 S.W.2d 386, 390 (1965). As explained in the Comment in earlier AMI editions, the previous definition stood on shaky ground. Most importantly, dicta in a subsequent case, Erwin v. Allied Van Lines, Inc., 240 Ark. 593, 594, 401 S.W.2d 25, 25–26 (1966), cast doubt on its viability. Rather than challenge the intoxication instructions given (which were similar, but apparently not identical, to those given in Jones and former AMI 607 (now AMI 606)), the appellant in Erwin contended that they were not justified by the evidence. After finding ample evidence for submission of the issue of intoxication, the court stated, “While we do not wish to approve the cumbersome instruction for future use … we find the instruction objected to was not prejudicial.” 240 Ark. at 594, 401 S.W.2d at 26 (emphasis added). In response to appellant's criticism of the AMI definition of intoxication, the court said, “We do not now examine this AMI instruction, for it was not given in the trial court. We may appropriately observe, however, that this court has not given its blanket advance approval to the Arkansas model instructions.” Id., 401 S.W.2d at 26. The court observed that its per curiam order “simply gave effect to the work of the committee by directing that its instructions be used unless the trial court should find that they do not accurately state the law.” Id., 401 S.W.2d at 26. Nothing in Erwin, however, calls into question the proposition that the civil definition of intoxication should follow the criminal definition. The Committee therefore concluded that the legislature's current formulation should form the basis for the instruction.
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