II (7) (E) (4). Incapacitation

E (4). Incapacitation

Incapacitation is the physical and/or mental inability to make informed, rational judgments and decisions. Someone is incapacitated if they are asleep or unconscious. Someone can also be incapacitated by alcohol or other substances.

Because the impact of alcohol and other drugs varies from person to person, one should be cautious before engaging in sexual contact or intercourse when either person has been drinking alcohol or using other drugs. The use of alcohol or other drugs may create ambiguity about consent. If there is any doubt about either party’s level of intoxication, the safe thing to do is to forgo all sexual activity.

Where alcohol or other substances are involved, incapacitation is determined by how the substance impacts a person’s decision-making capacity, awareness of consequences, and ability to make informed judgments. Incapacitation is a state beyond drunkenness or intoxication, and a person is not incapacitated merely because they have been drinking or using drugs.

Incapacitation is not determined by technical or medical definitions. The question is whether a person has the physical and/or mental ability to make informed, rational judgments and decisions.

Although each individual is different, there are some common and observable signs that someone is incapacitated or approaching incapacitation, including slurred or incomprehensible speech, unsteady gait, combativeness, emotional volatility, vomiting, or incontinence. A person who is incapacitated may not be able to understand or answer coherently some or all of the following questions:

  • Do you know where you are?
  • Do you know how you got here?
  • Do you know what is happening?
  • Do you know who you are with?