Public intoxication sounds like such a minor legal matter that most people do not give it much thought. At least you were not driving at the time. Walking home drunk must surely be the best and safest option, right?
Yes, it is better not to drive after consuming too much alcohol. Still, a public drunkenness conviction could impact your life in several ways. Instead of accepting your fate, defend yourself against a conviction.
What are the penalties for public intoxication?
Many states charge public intoxication as a misdemeanor. In Pennsylvania, it is neither a misdemeanor nor a felony—it is a summary offense. That means the authorities know how to address the matter, and you probably won’t need to appear in court. The penalty for a first-time conviction is a fine of up to $500. Subsequent public drunkenness convictions usually mean paying double the fine.
What are some collateral consequences?
Of course, all criminal convictions can lead to collateral consequences, even for public intoxication.
Here are a few examples to consider:
- Public exposure. As a matter of public record, your family, friends, bosses or associates will likely learn of your conviction.
- Educational interference. College students can face hardships continuing their education if convicted of public intoxication.
- Reputational damage. Politicians, business owners and other high-profile individuals could sustain substantial harm to their reputations.
Such convictions may also impact your personal relationships and ability to secure employment or housing.
What are your defense options?
According to state criminal code, public drunkenness must pose a risk of endangering people (including yourself) or property. If the police cannot prove this element, you may succeed in avoiding conviction. Police errors during the arrest may also strengthen your defense.
Talk over your case with a criminal defense professional. By working together, you can create an effective means of avoiding a public intoxication conviction.