Drunk In Public (Public Intoxication) – Is It a Big Deal?

One aspect of the college student experience is partying with friends and fellow students at the local bars and clubs. Often times, these college students have no means of transportation and find themselves walking to bars, clubs and to their dorm rooms on campus, sometimes while under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

In California there is a statute that prohibits being “Drunk in Public.” To be in violation of Penal Code section 647(f), the “Drunk in Public” statute, you must meet the following criteria:

1. Your level of intoxication makes you unable to exercise care for your safety or for the safety of others, or
2. Your level of intoxication interferes with, obstructs, or prevents others from using streets, sidewalks, or other “public ways”.

For the District Attorney to prove that someone was drunk in public they must prove that the individual was so intoxicated and impaired that they could not safely care for themselves or for the safety of others.

Most of the time people are not impaired enough to care for their own safety. Often times they have done something to antagonize the police officer that has come in contact with them. Unlike a DUI arrest, there is usually no chemical test that is performed to test the level of alcohol or drugs in a person’s system for a drunk in public charge. We generally challenge these types of arrests on your behalf.

Any arrest that results in a conviction on your record is something to be very concerned about. If you are a college student and applying for your first job out of school or applying for financial aid, and if you were arrested and charged, this conviction will show up on a background check. Prospective employers may be hesitant to offer you a position and could very likely assume that you have an alcohol or drug problem.

In addition, under California Vehicle Code section 13202.5, if you are under 21 years of age and you are convicted of public intoxication, you may lose your driver’s license for up to one year, even if you were not driving a vehicle. Also, if you do not yet have the privilege to drive, the court could order the department to delay issuing the driver’s license for one year subsequent to the time you become legally eligible to drive.

It is imperative that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to advocate on your behalf if you are facing a drunk in public charge. Contact our office today .