In Texas, a person is free to consume alcohol and interact with others
in a public space only if this person does not endanger themselves or
others. So while having a few drinks and talking a walk is alright, passing
out across a sidewalk may be cause for law enforcement to step in.
A person is intoxicated when their blood alcohol level surpasses .08%,
the same amount that would determine whether or not that person can be
charged with driving under the influence. Being intoxicated itself is
not a crime unless that person begins to affect more than themselves with
their actions. However, law enforcement may be able to use intoxication
as probable cause for arrest in relation to other crimes.
Being Drunk in Public Is Not a Crime
To be considered intoxicated in public, a person must be in a place that
there is public access. Some obvious places would be public parks and
beaches, streets, sidewalks, and schools. However, bars and clubs are
also considered a public place even though they are privately owned. Even
if a person has access to a public place from a private place, they can
be charged with public intoxication. An example would be someone that
was on their property but throwing rocks at cars on a public street.
In order to be arrested for public intoxication, three crucial components
must be present:
- The person has a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher,
- The person was in a public place, and
- The person may or will endanger themselves or others.
However, since these three components must be present before a person can
be charged with public intoxication, there are many defenses that an attorney can use.
While public intoxication itself is only a misdemeanor crime of up to a
$500 fine, when combined with other charges it can significantly increase
the penalties. Knowing public intoxication laws can help prevent a criminal
conviction from being harsher than it needs to be.