What is Public Intoxication?

When we think of public drunkenness, we usually think of 20-somethings rambling around drunk in the front yard of a frat house, or a bar patron shouting obscenities at nothing in particular outside of the establishment. The fact is, if you are in public and your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) level is .08% or higher in the State of Georgia, there is a chance that you can be charged with being public drunkenness.

Under Georgia law, public drunkenness inhibits public safety and order, and is thus considered an offense. Any person may be charged with public drunkenness, regardless of age or gender, if that person: public-intoxication

• Displays boisterous behavior in public

• Uses profane language or terms

• Commits an indecent act

• Is bothering the inhabitants of a private residence and is uninvited

• Loud language

Some of the terms or words above may be vague, and as such we have provided some definitions for you:

Public Places – Public places can include parks, streets, schools and other areas that may be open to disturbance. When safety, order or peace is disturbed by an intoxicated man or woman in public, they would be charged with public drunkenness or drunkenness.

Private Residence – This details the property of an individual that was disturbed by the alleged man or woman that was public drunkenness. Private residence can include more areas than just the home itself, such as the curb, driveway, carport or courtyard.

Uninvited Presence – This term means the arrival or appearance of an intoxicated man or woman in another individual’s private residence without his or her consent. The residence does not need to be occupied by the actual home owner, and can include lawful occupants or tenants.

Boisterous Behavior – This term describes violent or rough conduct that lacks restraint.

Indecent Act – This term includes lewd gestures, urination, “tagging” or graffiti and exposure of the genital region.

Profane Terms – These kinds of terms can be identified by whether or not they would be allowed to be said via public broadcasts on radio, television and in some forms of writing. Fighting words and obscenities are both considered to be profane language.

Penalties for Public Drunkenness

When someone is charged for public drunkenness, they may be penalized in the form of a warning, a fine or even jail time. In the State of Georgia each local municipality or county has their own laws regarding the punishment of public drunkenness or drunkenness. It is not uncommon to receive a sentence of community service or be required to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or take a drug and alcohol evaluation.

Public Drunkenness Defense

There are several common defenses to being charged with public drunkenness. Some of these include:

• Defendant Not in Public Place – The defendant may be able to prove that he or she was involuntarily in a public place or that he or she was not arrested in a public place.

• Defendant Not intoxicated – This defense is harder to prove, unless the defendant has proof that they were not intoxicated, usually via the blood alcohol test that was administered during the arrest.

Depending on whether or not you decide to hire an attorney, and what information he or she can use against your charges, your punishment may be reduced or your case may be thrown out altogether. Most criminal defense lawyers will consult with you for free, so speak with a few different attorneys and see if you have a chance in court.

The author of this article is a professional writer with work on several criminal defense blogs and is a frequent contributor to other law firms in Savannah, Georgia.


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