What Is Public Intoxication?

Public intoxication is likely to lead to arrest and criminal punishment. Public intoxication is an alcohol-related crime involving being visibly and noticeably impaired due to excessive alcohol (or drug) consumption while in a public space. For public intoxication to be a crime, the intoxicated person must have surpassed the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%. The person who is publicly intoxicated, or “drunk and disorderly,” is generally disturbing others with aggressive, violent, or shockingly inappropriate behavior.

Although some states have no law for public intoxication, most do. In the majority of states, public intoxication is a misdemeanor punishable by 30 to 60 days of jail time. Fines are typically $1,000 or more depending on the state’s law. In some states, aggravated public intoxication, typically defined as a 3rd offense, is punishable by up to 2 years of prison time. Other consequences of this act include fines, community service, and permanently having it on a record.

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How Does Someone Become Publicly Intoxicated?

Factors such as excessive alcohol from binge drinking or heavy drinking and being in public contribute the public intoxication. A person may be guilty of public intoxication by acting rowdy or having impaired judgement from drinking. Upon observing the individual, law enforcement must clearly see the signs of intoxication, although some may be better at hiding it. Publicly intoxicated individuals have become so drunk, they are disturbing the peace of the environment and making people feel uncomfortable. Individuals may start fights with strangers, behave aggressively in restaurants, and scaring those around them. They are so drunk, they have lost control over their emotions and their unpredictable actions can keep people on edge.

Furthermore, people who are drunk and disorderly can be reckless, even drinking while under the influence. Moderation (or ideally abstinence) is key in drinking and being aware of how one behaves under the influence can potentially reduce the risk of public intoxication.

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Binge Drinking Risk Factors

Due to relaxed attitudes toward binge drinking in places like clubs and bars, people may easily cave into peer pressure, increasing someone’s likelihood of public intoxication. College students are one of the most at-risk groups for public intoxication. Public intoxication is one of the 5 most common offenses committed by college students. Other risk factors for public intoxication include being aged 18-34, being under the age of 21, being male, and coming from upper-income level housing.

Public Intoxication and Binge Drinking

Public intoxication is most often the result of of binge drinking. The CDC states “1 out of every 6 adults binge drink 4 times each month.” Binge drinkers and heavy drinkers are easily more at risk for public intoxication. Binge drinking is calculated as 4 drinks per 2-hour timeframe (for women), and 5 or more drinks per 2-hour timeframe (for men).

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Be Proactive About Your Choices

Public intoxication is something that can be controlled with moderation, and if you or a loved one has a record of public intoxication, especially a repeat history, there may be an underlying problem. Talk with a treatment provider today to discover available treatment options.

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