If you drink alcohol before going out in public Texas, it is perfectly legal. But you should understand that there are circumstances under which you can be stopped and charged by law enforcement officers with public intoxication. Officers can arrest you for public intoxication if you have been drinking and are believed to be a danger to yourself or others. Public intoxication in Texas is a very serious charge that can be brought against anyone observed in a public location who could possibly do harm. Having a basic grasp of what constitutes public intoxication in the state of Texas is essential when it comes to avoiding an arrest or fighting an unwarranted public intoxication charge.
PUBLIC INTOXICATION LAWS
Texas defines public intoxication in the state Penal Code Section 49.02. The law states the following: public intoxication is charged when “[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.” In light of this, Texas law enforcement officers can arrest anyone they suspect of being dangerous while intoxicated in public. They are not required to administer breath tests or any field tests to support their suspicions.
PENALTIES FOR PUBLIC INTOXICATION
When a law enforcement officer assesses that someone is publicly intoxicated, he or she can choose to arrest that individual if there is also the possibility that the individual might be dangerous. After making an arrest, the individual is taken to a local police station for fingerprinting and booking, and to be photographed for the record. If the arrested individual is severely intoxicated, his or her stay in jail might last until he or she becomes sober enough to not be considered a danger to themselves or others. After being released from jail, the individual is required to address the charges at a scheduled court date.
The penalties for public intoxication in Texas vary depending on the age of the person charged, as well as other extenuating circumstances related to the arrest. Public intoxication is a Class C Misdemeanor for adults of legal drinking age. If convicted, the crime is added to one’s criminal record and carries the penalty of a fine up to $500. First-time offenders found guilty of public intoxication in the state of Texas usually are required to pay a fine only, but the penalties can increase if they are arrested for the same crime more than once or if they are not of legal drinking age.
BUILDING A STRONG DEFENSE
Any individual who is arrested and charged with public intoxication in Texas should consider contacting an attorney experienced with defending against such charges. If you or a loved one has been charged with public intoxication, a professional attorney will be able to explain the details of the charges to help you understand what your next steps should be, and then help build a strong defense to reach the best possible legal outcome in your case.
Being charged with and convicted of public intoxication in Texas can be very damaging to your reputation and quality of life. If you find yourself in need of legal services from a top attorney to fight a public intoxication charge for yourself or a loved one, reach out to the professional counsel at Erskine Law in Austin, Texas. You will benefit from the strong defense built by a knowledgeable, competent attorney. Contact Brian Erskine, the best criminal defense attorney for the job.