Behavioral Sciences & the Law

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Volume 4 Issue 1 (Winter 1986), Pages 1-102

Alcoholic blackouts: Phenomenology and legal relevance (pages 73-85)


Alcohol‐induced amnestic periods (blackouts) are common to alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinkers. The use of alcoholic amnesia as evidence of incompetence to stand trial or in mitigation of criminal responsibility hinges upon the reversibility of amnesia and upon the voluntariness of intoxication and of the ensuing blackout. After discussions of the phenomenology of alcoholic blackouts and the role of alcoholic and nonalcoholic amnesia in criminal law, it is argued that the voluntary nature of alcohol consumption should not mitigate behavioral consequences in any drinker.

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