How Serious is a Public Intoxication Charge?
In Texas, pleading guilty to a public intoxication charge can potentially lead to much bigger problems down the road. It is a common charge – hundreds of people are arrested every day for public intoxication in the DFW region – and often used by law enforcement just to empty out bars or other venues serving alcohol.
In most cases, public intoxication is a Class C misdemeanor. While traffic tickets are also generally Class C misdemeanors, the difference with a public intoxication conviction is that it appears on a person’s permanent record as a criminal conviction. It is really not the equivalent.
A simple night out, when you may or may not have been intoxicated (since breath analysis tests are sometimes not performed), can affect the rest of your life when it comes to employment, higher education, financial aid eligibility, housing, insurance premiums, and much more. A public intoxication charge may prove quite serious, which is why you should seek legal counsel immediately.
Under Texas law, a person is considered publicly intoxicated if he or she is in a public place and “may endanger” themselves or another. A person who exhibits signs of public drunkenness is not necessarily publicly intoxicated under the statute. Public intoxication often accompanies disorderly conduct or other actions that could harm those in the vicinity or the intoxicant.
A publicly intoxicated individual must also have a minimum Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level of 0.08 or more, the same standard used for driving under the influence.
Over or under 21
While an initial charge of public intoxication is a Class C misdemeanor, it becomes a Class B misdemeanor when the person has two previous such charges against them.
When a person under the age of 21 is arrested for public intoxication, consequences may prove much tougher. That is because underage drinking itself is illegal. When someone under 21 is convicted of public intoxication, this affects driving privileges. The young person’s driver’s license or learning permit is suspended. The underaged person cannot apply for a learner’s permit.
In addition, the underaged person must take an alcohol awareness course and complete mandatory community service requirements. As with adults, those who are underage and convicted of a third public intoxication charge face Class B misdemeanor penalties.
Public intoxication penalties
Class C misdemeanors are punishable by a fine of up to $500. Those convicted of a Class B misdemeanor face more severe penalties, including a fine of up to $2,000, up to six months in jail, or both.
Contact a public intoxication lawyer
If you were charged with public intoxication in the DFW, Allen, or Plano area, you need the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer at Peveto Law Firm. Do not plead guilty before speaking with an attorney. Call us today or use our online contact form to arrange a free consultation. We have secured outright dismissals or deferred adjudication for many of our clients. We can also help you with expungement if you have already been convicted of public intoxication. We will review your case and advise you of your options.
- Texas Penal Code: Title 3 – Punishments
- Texas Penal Code, TITLE 10. OFFENSES AGAINST PUBLIC HEALTH, SAFETY, AND MORALS, CHAPTER 49. INTOXICATION AND ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE OFFENSES, https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/PE/htm/PE.49.htm