In many cases throughout the State of Georgia, a charge of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol is accompanied by a charge of public drunkenness. These charges often go hand in hand, and the same evidence used to convict you of one may be used to convict you of the other. When that is the case and you are convicted, you could experience harsher penalties for the same behavior conducted during the same event.
Understanding your rights is crucial to avoiding extra charges or convictions. An experienced Georgia DUI attorney can defend your case and protect your rights.
Public drunkenness, commonly known as public intoxication, means to:
- be and appear in an intoxicated condition;
- in any public place;
- or within a private residence not his or her own without permission.
Private property includes any person's home, or the land and buildings surrounding that home. If a person is intoxicated while on another person's private property, without permission to be there, they can be charged with this crime even though they are not in "public."
A person's intoxication can be displayed by:
- indecent condition or act,
- vulgar, profane, loud, or unbecoming language.
Example: John is very intoxicated and stumbles into another person's front yard, tripping and falling while yelling curse words directed at an ex-girlfriend he mistakenly believes lives in the house. While the property is a private residence, he can be charged with public drunkenness.
Public Drunkenness City Ordinances
In addition to state laws against Public Drunkenness, many cities and even counties have enacted ordinances that criminalize similar behavior. You should make yourself aware of any specific acts or behaviors prohibited in your city. Local laws can remove the requirement that the arrested person act in an indecent condition or act, or by vulgar, profane, loud, or unbecoming language. Instead, they make being drunk in public the crime all by itself.
Is Being Drunk Enough to be Charged?
Simply being intoxicated while in public is not enough to be charged with this crime. You must also engage in conduct such as:
- Crude language such as curse words, racist language, or derogatory remarks;
- Urinating in public;
- Running in the streets;
- Arguing with police officers or others.
A Georgia prosecutor must prove that some type of conduct such as that listed above occurred and that you were intoxicated. Being "drunk in public" alone is not enough. An experienced Georgia DUI defense attorney can raise defenses that could reduce or even possibly dismiss your charges.
Additional charges are often charged alongside a charge of public drunkenness. These include:
- Pedestrian under the influence;
- Underage drinking;
- Minor in possession of alcohol;
- Disorderly conduct;
- Crimes for property damage;
- Assault or battery charges related to bar fights;
- County and Municipal charges related to public drunkenness.
The state public drunkenness law specifically leaves open the possibility that local governments can enact and enforce laws of their own, which could result in additional charges.
Penalties for Public Intoxication
A conviction for public intoxication is is a misdemeanor, and the penalties include:
- A jail sentence of up to 12 months in jail;
- A maximum possible fine of up to $1,000.
These penalties would likely be in addition to any other penalties for other charges you face.
Consult a Georgia DUI Attorney
If you have been charged with public drunkenness or DUI in Georgia, you need a knowledgeable attorney to protect your rights. Just because you are charged with the offense does not mean that you have to plead guilty. Our office is devoted to helping people who are charged with alcohol and drug-related offenses. You are never alone, as we are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help. You do not have to have a permanent criminal record; there are many options in public drunkenness cases, pedestrian under the influence cases, and in disorderly conduct cases. An experienced Georgia DUI attorney knows the law and how to defend your case. Contact us today for a free consultation.