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Published on January 8th, 2014 | by Daniel Perlman


Drunk and Disorderly in California

Were You Arrested for Being “Drunk in Public”?

California Penal Code Section 647(f) makes it a misdemeanor crime for a person to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs in a public place and to be in such a condition that either:

1) The person’s intoxication makes him or her “unable to exercise care for his or her own safety or the safety others” or

2) Due to his or her level of intoxication, the person “interferes with or obstructs or prevents the free use of any street, sidewalk, or other public way.

Penalties if you are convicted for being Drunk and Disorderly

A conviction for a drunk in public carries with it up to six months of jail time, and/or a fine of up to one thousand dollars and probation. Even if the judge sentences you only to probation rather than jail time a “drunk in public” conviction will still go on your permanent criminal record, where it can be seen by prospective employers and licensing agencies.

Drunk and Disorderly Repeat Offender Penalties

If you are convicted of “drunk in public” three (3) times within a twelve (12)-month period, you face a minimum of ninety (90) days in county jail. The court can suspend this penalty requirement if you spend sixty (60) days in an alcohol treatment and recovery program.

Legal Defenses for “Drunk in Public”

There are a variety of legal defenses that a skilled California criminal defense lawyer can present on your behalf. Two of these defenses include:
You were not in a public place

If you were arrested in a home, hotel room or other private place, there was no “public intoxication”…regardless of how drunk you may have been.

You Were Not Intoxicated

In order for you to be guilty of California drunk in public, prosecutors need to be able to show beyond a reasonable doubt both that you were willfully intoxicated in a public place and that you engaged in behavior that meets the legal definition of public intoxication.

If you have questions about California’s “drunk in public” law, or you would like to discuss your case confidentially, we invite you to contact us.

Daniel R. Perlman
The Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman

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