Reports out of South Carolina show that a woman has been accused of driving under the influence of alcohol. What makes this story interesting, and what got it to make national headlines was that the woman was driving a child's Power Wheels truck down a public road.
She was not arrested for DUI but instead arrested for public intoxication.
As a Georgia DUI Lawyer, I will outline the offense of public intoxication except in the state of Georgia - not South Carolina as in the story above.
Public intoxication is a more commonly charged crime than most people think. In Georgia, it is referred to by law as public drunkenness.
Public Drunkenness in Georgia
Public drunkenness in Georgia is defined by the Georgia Code in O.C.G.A. §16-11-41 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 a misdemeanor.
Simply being intoxicated and in a public place is not enough to be charged with public drunkenness. Your behavior must be such that your intoxication was made known to others around you by disorderly or disruptive, or otherwise obnoxious acts or even just loud, offensive language. If a law enforcement officer finds you asleep in your car in a public place, even if you are heavily intoxicated, a charge of Public Intoxication would be improper. “…the intoxication must be made manifest by indecent act or unbecoming language. Extreme stupor or sleep is not a violation of the law.”
The maximum punishment for a misdemeanor charge of Public Intoxication in Georgia is up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $1,000. The sentencing judge has the discretion, though, to sentence you to a period of probation instead of any jail time, as well as some combination of a fine, community service, or an alcohol awareness class.
Public intoxication is generally characterized by loud or disruptive behavior or behavior that interferes with other people's enjoyment of public spaces. This includes yelling, using profane language, destroying other people's property, and running in the streets.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for an alcohol or drug related offense, contact our offices today. A Georgia DUI Attorney can help now.