What is Public Intoxication?

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  • Written By: Nat Robinson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 17 February 2020
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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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Post 2

I almost got arrested for public intoxication one time. I didn't think I was as drunk as I actually was, and I lived a few blocks away from the bar. During the long walk home, I felt like taking a few illegal shortcuts through private property. One of the homeowners must have reported a trespasser to the police, and a squad car stopped in front of me about 100 yards from my apartment.

The officer was professional about the whole thing. He explained that public intoxication was a misdemeanor, and that he had the right to take me into the station if he thought I was a menace to the public. I told him I was sorry for taking those shortcuts, and that I just planned to go home and sleep it off. He let me go with a warning, only after he walked with me the rest of the way.

Post 1

If I remember my college days correctly, the most dangerous time for a drinker was the walk between the bar and his or her car. A police officer can't charge someone with public intoxication until that person actually steps into a public area, like a sidewalk or alley or parking lot. It's legal to become intoxicated in a bar, and a car can be considered personal property. But the distance between them is prime territory for a public intoxication arrest.

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