WATERLOO | The Iowa Supreme Court has overturned a Waterloo woman’s public intoxication conviction in a ruling that holds the front steps of a person’s home aren’t public.

Patience Paye had been arrested in June 2013 after calling 911 after a domestic argument over car keys turned physical. When officers arrived, she stepped outside so she could talk with police without upsetting her children in the home, according to court records.

After Paye’s significant other said she had been drinking, officers checked her sobriety and determined she had a blood alcohol level of .264. She was arrested for public intoxication.

During her trial, she argued the front steps of her home didn’t constitute a public place, and the high court agreed in a 13-page ruling handed down Friday.

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“The front stairs of Paye’s home were not a public place (Iowa Code) because she could restrict, impede or deny public access to that location and because she had not invited the general public to come there,” the court said in its ruling, which reversed Paye’s conviction in district court.

The case was argued in front of the Iowa Supreme Court in April during a special session at Decorah High School.

In 2003, the court had taken up the issue of common hallways and front steps in apartment buildings and ruled those areas were public. Friday’s decision concluded the front steps of a single-family home are not a public place unless the home’s residents make them public by extending a general invitation to the public to come upon the property.

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