What Is Public Intoxication?

An individual charged with public intoxication may face arrest.
Appearing in an intoxicated state in a public environment is considered public intoxication.
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  • Written By: Nat Robinson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 26 June 2014
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Public intoxication is appearing in an intoxicated state in a public environment. The person may appear overly excited, in a frenzy or weak and extremely exhausted. Many intoxicated people may slur their words and say things that they may be unable to remember later. Intoxication in a public environment is dangerous because an intoxicated person is often unaware of his or her actions. This could cause the person to injure other individuals or himself or herself.

Often, drinking will lead to public intoxication. If a person consumes a great amount of alcohol, he or she may become drunk. A person in this condition may say or do things that he or she normally would not with a sober mind. Drunkenness in the privacy of one's own home is one thing, but if a drunk person inhabits a dwelling filled with other people, this could exaggerate his or her condition. This could cause the onset of strange behavior in the person, making the entire environment of the intoxicated person unpredictable and unsafe.


An individual exhibiting public intoxication may be charged with drunk and disorderly. This may be done if the person goes into a public place and causes a disturbance. Generally, a severely drunk person causing a fight on public premises may be charged with public intoxication. There are other ways in which a person may be charged with drunken disorderly conduct. If an intoxicated person disturbs the peace by arguing or making unusually loud noises, after being warned to stop, he or she may be charged as well.

Drug usage can also lead a person to intoxication. This could be the usage of a street drug or a prescription medication. Any pharmaceutical substance consumed by an individual which alters his or her personality could pose a risk to him or her and potentially those nearby. For this reason, if a person is intoxicated due to drug usage and enters a public place and causes a disturbance, he or she may be displaying public intoxication.

Most areas have different sets of laws to handle the matter of public intoxication. In many cases, the individual may be arrested and jailed until he or she sobers up or until the medication wears off. If the person causes a disturbance, but listens to warning and simmers down, he or she may not be severely intoxicated. In this situation, the person may be given a warning and asked to vacate the premises. A person officially charged with intoxication in a public dwelling should consult with an attorney for legal advice.


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