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PUBLIC INTOXICATION

Section 49.02 of the Texas Penal Code-

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

EXAMPLE

Joe Public and some of his friends Ron, Doug, and Tom are out at a nightclub.  Tom is the designated driver.  The guys’ version of a designated driver is the person who has had the least to drink.  When the club closes, the guys go to the car to drive home.  Tom had too much to drink and is weaving down the road.  Tom is stopped by the police and arrested for Driving While Intoxicated.  All the passengers in the car are checked for intoxication and all of them are too drunk to drive.  The other three, Joe, Doug, and Ron, are all arrested for Public Intoxication.

This may seem unfair to the three people who were not driving, but since no one else can drive the car, the others would be a danger to themselves and others.  It is not the police officer’s duty to drive the guys to a safe place.  This is a Class C misdemeanor for the passengers.   The guys could be fined up to $500 and will probably spend the night in jail.

CONSUMPTION OF AN ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE IN A MOTOR VEHICLE Section 49.03 of the Texas Penal Code-

A person commits an offense if the person consumes an alcoholic beverage while operating a motor vehicle in a public place and is observed doing so by a peace officer.

EXAMPLE

Joe just got off work at a local restaurant at 1:30 a.m.  He takes a beer with him in the car to drink on the way home.  Joe is sitting at a stoplight and is taking the first drink of his beer when a police officer pulls up next to him just in time to see Joe take a drink.  The police lights go on and Joe is given a Class C citation for Consumption of an Alcoholic Beverage in a Motor Vehicle.  It does not matter that Joe was not intoxicated.  Joe was operating his car and drinking an alcoholic beverage. The fine is up to $500.