A charge for Public Drunk happens more frequently than most people think it does - especially in Georgia. A lot of times individuals get charged with Public Drunkenness when they are actually attempting to avoid driving under the influence.
The charge itself requires more than just being intoxicated and being in public. Let's look at the law.
Georgia Law on Public Drunk
The Georgia Code defines the law on public drunk in Georgia as:
A person who shall be and appear in an intoxicated condition in any public place or within the curtilage of any private residence not his own other than by invitation of the owner or lawful occupant, which condition is made manifest by boisterousness, by indecent condition or act, or by vulgar, profane, loud, or unbecoming language is guilty of public drunkenness. (O.C.G.A. §16-11-41).
The law requires that a person not only be intoxicated, but use vulgar, loud, or profane language. It's not a crime to be intoxicated in public - it's a crime to be intoxicated and demonstrate disorderly conduct.
If convicted of public drunk in Georgia, a person is guilty of a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor convictions can include up to 12 months in jail or up to $1,000 in fines or both.
Explanation of O.C.G.A. §16-11-41(a)
Being drunk and in a public setting is not sufficient for a Public Drunkenness charge. This charge is based on your behavior. You must be intoxicated and disruptive to the people around you. Georgia Courts hold that an individual's intoxication must be manifested by an indecent act or vulgar or profane language.
The burden of proof in this offense is particularly low because all the State of Georgia must prove is that you were acting in a way that violated the above mentioned statute. The evidence in this case will mostly rely on the arresting officer's testimony about what happened. Witnesses can be called to testify as well. The testimony will need to demonstrate that you were yelling, fighting, arguing, or acting out in public in order to convict you.
City and County Ordinances Against Public Intoxication
On top of Georgia's law against Public Drunkenness, there are also ordinances put in place by Georgia cities and counties. These ordinances criminalize similar intoxicated behavior. However, the ordinances can be much broader - even to the point where merely being drunk in public is a crime.
As a Georgia DUI Lawyer my office is committed to helping people who are charged with offenses related to drugs and alcohol. If you or a loved one has been charged with Public Drunk in Georgia, contact our offices today.