Public Intoxication (PI)

General Information

A person may commit Public Intoxication by being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This may include prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications or aerosol sprays. It is a defense to prosecution for P.I. that the alcohol or drugs were administered for therapeutic purposes and as part of the person's professional medical treatment by a licensed physician. Mixing alcohol and prescription medications is contrary to most medical advice.

The crime of P.I. requires that the person be intoxicated to the degree that he is a danger to himself or another person. Being publicly intoxicated makes a person vulnerable to robbery, assault, and a number of other difficulties. For instance, there could be the possibility of tripping on a curb while walking home and being hit by a car. An intoxicated person may plan to drive home or ride as a passenger in a vehicle driven by an intoxicated driver. This would endanger the individual. As for endangering another person, starting a fight or throwing a bottle in the general direction of another person at a bar would constitute endangerment.

In most cases, an individual charged with P.I. will be arrested and spend at least 6 hours in jail to regain sobriety. However, a police officer could merely issue a citation and release the individual to the care of an adult who agrees to assume responsibility for the individual.

An individual arrested for P.I. will be required to post a cash bail before he can be released from jail. Bail is the security given by the accused that he will appear in court to defend the charges.

The Law

49.02 Public Intoxication

A person commits an offense if the person appears in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that the person may endanger the person or another.

Intoxicated is defined as not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.

An offence under this section is a class C misdemeanor. An individual adjudged guilty of a class C misdemeanor shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $500. However, for a minor, the punishment terms are in the same manner as if he committed the offense of Possession of Alcohol by a Minor.

Plea Options

Not Guilty Pleas

If you are not guilty of P.I., enter a plea of not guilty with the court. You must prepare for your defense at a bench or jury trial. You should have the court clerk issue subpoenas for those witnesses necessary for your defense. It is recommended that you seek the advice of an attorney prior to the trial.

Guilty Pleas

If you are guilty of P.I. enter a plea of no contest or guilty and request the court clerk to schedule an uncontested hearing with the judge on the issue of punishment. At the hearing, introduce yourself to the judge and explain that you desire to avoid a P.I. conviction on your record. Therefore, you request that the court grant you Deferred Disposition.

Deferred Disposition

The judge may defer further proceedings without entering an adjudication of guilt and place you on probation for a period not to exceed 180 days. At the conclusion of the deferral period, if you present evidence that you complied with the requirements imposed by the court, the judge shall dismiss the P.I. complaint and note in the docket that there is not a final conviction. However, the arrest will still appear on your record.

In most cases, the judge will grant Deferred Dispositionand order six months probation, 20 hours community service, attendance at an alcohol education workshop and court costs. 

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