Although you have the right to enjoy an alcoholic beverage once you’re 21, it’s important to remember there are several laws in place that prohibit the misuse of alcohol. One offense that often requires clarification is public intoxication. The legalities regarding this charge vary from state to state, but it’s a crime that can seriously impact a person’s life. Here are the answers to some of the most frequent questions attorneys are asked about being intoxicated in public.
4 Common Questions Regarding Public Intoxication
1. When is a person considered publicly intoxicated?
To be arrested for public intoxication, a person must exhibit behavior that shows they’re unable to take care of themselves or create a disturbance. However, law enforcement has some discretion in defining a disturbance. For example, someone could be considered publicly intoxicated for using offensive language, injuring another person, damaging property, posing a threat to their safety, or being passed out on the sidewalk.
2. What are the potential consequences?
Public intoxication is charged as a misdemeanor, which can result in hefty fines, jail time, probation, or community service. It’s also possible to face more serious charges if another crime is committed while intoxicated. It’s best to seek representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney instead of handling the case on your own.
3. Is it legal to drink on the beach in Hawaii?
Under Hawaii law, it’s illegal to consume alcoholic beverages on public beaches. Drinking on the beach can lead to a public intoxication charge or an open container ticket. The fine for being caught with an open container is between $200-$300.
4. What defense strategies are used in public intoxication cases?
An attorney will usually look for evidence to prove their client didn’t fit the intoxication description at the time of the arrest. They may also argue their client wasn’t in a public place, or they were under the influence of prescription medication.
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