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Penalties for Public Intoxication in Texas

If you’re 21 or older, it’s not illegal for you to drink alcohol in Texas. If you’re at home, you can have as many drinks as you want; you’re not breaking the law. If you drink at a bar or a restaurant, it’s perfectly lawful for you to consume alcohol – to a point.

When it comes to drinking alcohol in a public place, for example, at one of the bars downtown, at a dive bar, or at the steakhouse down the street, you can’t have so much to drink that you’re falling over drunk.

In fact, when you have “way too much to drink,” you can actually be arrested and charged with “public intoxication,” a Class C misdemeanor under Section 49.02 of the Texas Penal Code. So, the next time you have Uber drive you to a bar, you may want to think twice before you order that fourth or fifth drink.

If a cop spots you being loud, boisterous, or obviously drunk while you exit a bar and walk to the curb with your friends (waiting for a sober ride), you could be law enforcement’s next target.

Even though you’re doing the right thing by avoiding a DWI and calling Uber or a cab, you’re still at risk of being arrested if you’re falling over drunk in public. Read on as we explain public intoxication under Sec. 49.02 of the Texas Penal Code.

Being ‘Drunk’ in Public Can Be a Crime

A person commits the offense of public intoxication under Sec. 49.02 when he or she is in a public place and they appear intoxicated to the point that they could endanger another person. An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.

Under Texas’ public intoxication law, it talks about the intoxicated individual endangering others. So, what constitutes being a danger to another person? Here are some possible examples:

  • Starting a verbal or physical altercation with someone else
  • Being loud or argumentative
  • Stumbling into someone, knocking them over
  • Falling down stairs while drunk (you could hit someone on your way down)
  • Passing out on the floor in a busy, public place (someone could trip on you)
  • Shouting controversial, racial, or threatening remarks that others could consider offensive
  • Disrupting the public peace because of rude or offensive behavior

As you can see, it’s not difficult to be considered a danger to other people, even if you have no intention of placing others in harm’s way. If you are facing criminal charges, even for a Class C misdemeanor, you don’t want to risk a criminal record; you need legal assistance.

Are you looking for a Plano or Dallas criminal defense attorney to defend you against public intoxication charges? If so, contact The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC for an aggressive defense!