Laws prohibiting public intoxication vary from state-to-state. Certain states do not even have any laws against such behavior. However, Florida specifically outlaws disorderly intoxication.
If you appear drunk in public, you may face criminal penalties, including fines and jail time. Here are some important facts to know about Florida's public intoxication statute.
To understand the law, you must understand what certain terms mean. For example, "intoxication," "public" and "endangerment" all mean very specific things in relation to the Florida criminal code. Under the law, intoxication means being drunk to the point where you are at risk of harming yourself, other people or property. It is also illegal to be drunk and cause a disturbance while taking public transportation. One of the main reasons this law exists is to prevent public endangerment.
The public is a wide-ranging term that encompasses almost any location accessible to members of the public. This means that, even if a bar or store is technically a private business, it may still count as a public place in the eyes of the law. However, private residential property does not count.
Florida law classifies disorderly intoxication as a misdemeanor of the second degree. This offense is punishable by 60 days in jail and $500 fine. If you receive a conviction, you will also acquire a criminal record.
However, the law provides for police officers to use discretion. Instead of arresting you, the police officer may choose to take you to a medical facility, treatment center or home.
There are several possible ways to challenge a charge of disorderly conduct:
- Claiming a lack of evidence of intoxication
- Claiming no risk of endangerment
- Disputing whether the incident happened in a public place
- Calling witnesses to testify
If you can successfully contest the charges you face, you will not need to deal with the serious consequences of a public intoxication conviction.