Nebraska will not punish you harshly for the mere act of being drunk while possessing a firearm. In fact, depending on the circumstances it might not punish you at all.
Penalties for Possession of a Firearm While Intoxicated
Possession of a firearm while intoxicated is not a crime under Nebraska state law unless you conceal your weapon. If you conceal a firearm while intoxicated, one of two possible penalties may apply:
- If you have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, Nebraska might revoke your permit. Normally, the state will not revoke your permit for a first offense if you were not on state property.
- If you do not have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, Nebraska might fine you up to $1,000, imprison you for up to a year, or both. This penalty applies solely because you concealed the weapon, however, not because you were intoxicated.
Legal Definition of Intoxicated
These penalties apply even if you are not “drunk.” All that is required to revoke your concealed weapon permit is that you have any amount of alcohol in your system.
When it comes to other drugs, the rule is the same with one exception. You are not considered “intoxicated” for carrying firearms while under the influence of a legal substance such as a prescription drug.
Beware: Local Ordinances
Remember that local ordinances vary. In Omaha, for example, you need a concealed weapons permit to open carry.
This raises the novel legal question of whether Nebraska can revoke your concealed carry permit for open-carrying in Omaha while intoxicated in a place where you cannot carry a concealed weapon.
The Real Danger of Carrying While Intoxicated
The most potent danger of carrying a firearm while intoxicated is what you might do with your inhibitions lowered. This risk goes beyond the risk of shooting someone.
You might violate other firearms laws without even thinking twice, and end up in a lot of trouble that way. Following are some examples of foolish and illegal things you might do with a gun while intoxicated:
- Giving a firearm to a juvenile is a Class III felony, with certain narrow exceptions.
- Suppose you decide to use your backyard tree for target practice, or fire into the air to celebrate the Fourth of July. You may not be thinking about it at the time, but firing a gun within city limits (if against local ordinance), or firing a gun in the direction of a residence is a serious crime.
- You might not think twice about cutting through a school parking lot while in possession of a gun. Carrying a gun onto school property is a Class IV felony that carries a penalty of up to two years imprisonment, one year of probation, and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Entering any of the following places carrying a gun, even open carry, violates Nebraska law: School grounds, a school bus, a police station, a prison, a courtroom, certain government meetings, banks and financial institutions, churches and houses of worship, sporting events, hospitals, bars, private property, places where there is a “no weapons” sign, and specially designated places.
You do not have to drink for any of the foregoing acts to be illegal. It’s just that intoxication can lessen your inhibitions, make you careless, and encourage you to act in ways that violate these laws.
And please note that exceptions exist to some of these prohibitions. You may carry a firearm on private property, for example, if the property owner consents.
So if you find yourself charged with such crimes, consult with a knowledgeable attorney to determine what defenses might be available to you.
Penalties for Concealing a Firearm Without a Permit
Concealing a firearm without a permit is perhaps the easiest gun law violation to commit while intoxicated. The penalties, however, could be severe:
- Nebraska punishes a first offense of violating the concealed carry law as a Class I misdemeanor. A Class I misdemeanor penalties are up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
- Nebraska punishes subsequent offenses of the concealed carry law as a Class IV felony. The penalties are up to two years in prison plus one year of probation, and a $10,000 fine.
Contact an attorney immediately if Nebraska charges you with violating Nevada’s concealed carry law.
Get the Ball Rolling Today
The Nebraska criminal justice system is harsh and sometimes brutal. Nebraska prosecutors are extremely aggressive when it comes to firearms violations. Don’t try to represent yourself, and don’t seek out an inexperienced lawyer.
If Nebraska has charged you with any sort of firearms violation, call the Peterson Law Office at (402) 509-8070 or contact us online for a free initial consultation. We know the Nebraska criminal justice system inside and out, and we are familiar with all the major players.