Public Intoxication

Texas Penal Code Sec. 49.02. PUBLIC INTOXICATION.

(a) 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.
(a-1) For the purposes of this section, a premises licensed or permitted under the Alcoholic Beverage Code is a public place.
(b) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the alcohol or other substance was administered for therapeutic purposes and as a part of the person’s professional medical treatment by a licensed physician.
(c) Except as provided by Subsection (e), an offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.
(d) An offense under this section is not a lesser included offense under Section 49.04.
(e) An offense under this section committed by a person younger than 21 years of age is punishable in the same manner as if the minor committed an offense to which Section 106.071, Alcoholic Beverage Code, applies.

Public intoxication is a Class C misdemeanor, on the same level as a traffic ticket. Many people are arrested for public intoxication, and plead guilty to it as a means to deal with a matter that seems minor, but it may have serious implications. By pleading guilty to public intoxication, you are admitting that you had so much to drink that you posed a danger to yourself or others. This can be very damaging when applying for jobs, and when seeking professional licensing. In some cases it can interfere with one’s ability to attend or supervise school activities, and there may be insurance issues as well.

For people under the age of 21, a conviction for public intoxication can have additional penalties, such as a higher fine, the requirement of probation, the requirement to take an alcohol education class, a driver license or learner permit suspension, or denial of a learner permit.

Public Intoxication is not anywhere near as easy for the State to prove as it may seem. People are considered intoxicated under the Law if there is a breath test of above .08 blood alcohol content, but few police agencies will take the effort to give a breath or blood test to someone suspected of merely a Class C Misdemeanor. This means that the State has to use other methods to demonstrate not only intoxication, but a level of intoxication which poses a danger to a person or the public. It is, therefore, an opinion crime, and a prosecutor, judge or jury may well disagree with the opinion of the arresting officer. A criminal defense attorney can help keep a public intoxication offense off your record and is a worthy investment.

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