In 2009, the number of detentions under the Act 1976:511 on the disposal of drunk people, etc. (LOB) was estimated to about 62 000, of which approximately 87 percent spent time in police custody for sobering up. Efforts to handle drunken individuals do not belong to the core of the police responsibilities, which is why some people regard it as "a crappy job." The LOB gives the police the power to arrest individuals who are so intoxicated that he or she cannot take care of him or herself, constitutes a danger to him or herself, or is a danger to another person.
It is clear is that the conditions of the LOB are blurred. Thus, the National Police Board by regulation have been given the task of drawing up detailed rules for how the LOB is to be applied in practice. The regulations, however, give no detailed guidance on how the constituent elements should be interpreted. The purposes of the project have been to use a theoretical approach to review the legal regulations and a systematically analyze empirical data in order to study both how the LOB came to be applied, and also whether the application is incompliance with the law and the basic requirements of the individual's legal rights. The essential issue in this work is whether the constitution provides the legal certainty that the legislature sought to safeguard.
The legislature's intentions at the LOB's origins and the drunkenness decriminalization cannot be overlooked. Issues such as the health care aspect, limitative purposes and care of the individual should prevail. It has been shown that the legislature's intentions do not always produce the desired results out among legal practitioners, but that they create an autonomous understanding of how the elements of arrest should be interpreted. In other words, an understanding of how texts should be interpreted mainly arises in the contact between colleagues.
Arrests of drunken individuals should be examined by a foreman, who is a police officer, as well as the intervention of the policeman. The strong brotherhood and collegiality that is prevailing in the police force is likely to affect the detainees’ access to objective review of the decision. Furthermore, there is no effective monitoring and sanction system to recognize and deal with errors in the application of the LOB. In Sweden, unlike Denmark, there is no explicit right to challenge the legality of a drunken arrest before the courts. To introduce such a law was discussed at the advent of the LOB, but was never introduced.
In addition to detention, such arrest may also have legal consequences for individuals such as examination of the right for a driver’s license and a two years waiting period for applying for a weapons’ permit. In cases where law enforcement is not done properly, the individuals who are not cared for correctly also suffer from these consequences. In order to be affected by this, the individual must be identified. The police currently have no explicit legal basis for identifying these individuals, which is why about one tenth remain unidentified and thus escapes the consequences.
A conclusion that LOB and its application are associated with a lack of legal certainty is presented in the paper. The police are an arm of the legislature and put to work in a text-driven organization, such as street-level bureaucrats in direct contact with citizens, which is why they are often torn between different interests. The difficulties in verifying the practical application of the law makes the police forced to interpret and apply the LOB in a manner that may not be consistent with the legislature's intentions. The shortcomings that exist in monitoring and sanctioning the system are some of the reasons that this can take place.
Växjö: Linnaeus University Press, 2011. , 97 p.