The combination of intoxication and criminal responsibility has been a problem field for legal theory and practice for quite some time. While it has been argued in certain contexts that intoxication reduces or denies criminal responsibility, elsewhere it has been reasoned that intoxicated offenders should be held as (or even more so) legally responsible as sober ones. But even in legal systems where the criminal responsibility of intoxicated offenders is emphasized, legal theory and practice are confronted with the challenge of converting such values into workable jurisprudence, since many intoxicated offenders naturally lack one of the key premises for responsibility for a criminal act, namely mens rea. This article compares the very different legal philosophies and practices that have evolved around the issue of intoxication and criminal responsibility in Canada and Germany. While the Canadian system has long and in a variety of ways tried to reconcile the inherent tensions between the principles of legal culpability and the intent to punish intoxicated offenders in material law, the German system has produced a set of legal tools that allow for a pragmatic and ends-oriented approach. This article concludes that the evolution and profile of these legal schemes is likely linked to the cultural status of alcohol and drinking in the respective system context.

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