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It is illegal to carry a gun while intoxicated, even if you do have a license to possess the weapon. But the penalties and precise restrictions vary from state to state, and there are some places where the language of the law is imprecise.
The safest bet, of course, is to never drink alcohol or do drugs when carrying your gun. This ensures you cannot get in trouble or jeopardize your permit. Just like a driver's license, a permit to carry a firearm is granted by the government and not an entitlement. By applying for and obtaining a license, you agree -- expressly and by implication -- to submit to state scrutiny.
In Michigan, a person with a permit to carry a concealed weapon implies consent to blood alcohol testing, and a police officer may require a breath, blood or urine test with probable cause. In many states, Blood Alcohol Content of .08 is considered an evidence of intoxication.
But in Michigan, a BAC of .02 is enough to have a weapon confiscated and subject a person with a concealed carry permit to fines, suspension of the gun license for one year, and a civil infraction. A BAC of .08 or higher, while in possession of a concealed firearm, is a criminal misdemeanor in Michigan. Testing at this level will land a concealed carry permit holder in jail for up to 93 days, and earn them a $100 fine and three-year gun license suspension.
Michigan, however, does allow gun owners to transport their weapons locked in the trunk of their car, unloaded, or in a locked compartment.
Last year, Kansas passed a new law that was intended to clarify the fact that carrying a gun while intoxicated was prohibited. But critics said the language was confusing and seemed to ultimately carve out room for most cases of intoxicated weapons possessions.
Every state has different laws. But by seeking a license to carry a gun -- whether concealed or open -- you can be sure that you are agreeing to the state's rules. So take the time to look up what you need to know, or just play it safe. Don't drink and do drugs and carry guns.
If, however, you do find yourself in trouble with the law, speak to a lawyer. A criminal defense attorney can help you defend against any charges or negotiate limited punishment if you are guilty. Get help.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.