The public intoxication law in Texas can be vague and confusing. How so?
State law indicates that law enforcement officers can arrest a person on suspicion of public intoxication. However, the arrest can occur only if the drunk person is a danger to others or themselves.
On New Year’s Day 2018, a Texas woman was a passenger in a vehicle driven by a friend pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. Witness accounts said the woman yelled to the driver not to take the sobriety test. The arresting officers then charged the woman with public intoxication. The woman’s attorney believes the police applied the law in the wrong way.
Critics agree that the law is too vague and allows for police to overstep their bounds. Essentially, they say that it allows police to conduct crowd control.
It’s a strong argument. Drunk driving arrests rely on evidence such as field tests and breath tests. Public intoxication law, on the other hand, relies only on the officer’s suppositions and provides no guidelines as to prohibited behavior.
A person could go out for drinks with friends, then decide not to drive home since they had too much to drink. Technically, this individual could be arrested for public intoxication when trying to do the right thing.
However, law enforcement officers say the leeway is needed to address a wide variety of behaviors to take an inebriated person into police custody. Moreover, most Texas public intoxication cases involve a person creating danger to themselves or others by slipping, staggering, or falling along a roadway at night.
How Texas Public Intoxication Charges Work
A person is legally intoxicated if his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is at least 0.08 percent. The police are not required to test your BAC to make an arrest for public intoxication. They can arrest you on probable cause, such as slurred words, bloodshot eyes, or an alcohol smell on your breath.
An arrest for public intoxication can occur in any public place, including porches and apartment building hallways. Any place licensed to sell alcohol is considered a public place.
Public intoxication a class C misdemeanor, punishable with a fine of up to $500. It’s a low-level offense that carries the least amount of punishment for all alcohol-related offenses.
Why You Should Fight a Public Intoxication Charge
You could simply pay the fine and be done with the incident, but here’s why you should consider fighting back with the help of a skilled Fort Worth criminal attorney.
A misdemeanor charge stays on your record. Even if you are acquitted of your charge, it will remain there unless you work to get it expunged. A misdemeanor conviction can impair your chances of being hired for many types of jobs. It can also enhance the penalties for a future offense.
You can fight your charges with the help of a knowledgeable Texas defense attorney. We will study the facts of your case to come up with the best possible strategy to call the charges into question and cast doubt about your guilt.
Call today for a free case review. We will work to protect your rights and your reputation.
About the Author:
Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU, and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.