The Issue of Public Intoxication

Being drunk in public is not only unseemly it has the potential for harm. How many videos have been show where people who have a bit too much had gone on a rampage, destroying property and assaulting strangers for no good reason?

However, the federal government has no jurisdiction over public intoxication (also known as drunk and disorderly) because Article One of the Constitution does not specifically grants Congress the power to legislate against public intoxication, including drunk driving. However, under the Tenth Amendment, state and local government can and do pass laws designed to protect the public, and that includes acts involving intoxication. As a result, state regulations on public intoxication vary widely from state to state.

For example, criminal defense lawyers will be familiar with state codes that criminalizes being intoxicated or appear intoxicated in public. A person can be arrested for being drunk in public and causing trouble if he or she refuses to accept help, and will be charged with a misdemeanor. If summarily convicted, it could result in 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. However, if an intoxicated person commits other offense, or is a habitual offender, this is considered Aggravated Public Intoxication and may carry up to two years in prison.

Public Intoxication in Texas, on the other hand, is a Class C misdemeanor (fine not more than $500) unless the offender is a minor and/or a repeat offender, as specified under the Texas Penal Code § 49.01. Texas law does not require an individual to have a blood alcohol level above the legal limit for a public intoxication charge, which some claim is used by law enforcement as a means of harassment. According to the website of criminal defense lawyer Ian Inglis, even a minor charge such as public intoxication can lead to a lot of trouble for the defendant.

If you have been arrested for public intoxication, you should make the effort to get adequate representation. Consult with a competent criminal defense lawyer in your area to avoid the consequences of a conviction.

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