Public intoxication refers to the act of being drunk or intoxicated while in a public place. It is an alcohol-related case as one would have to be under the influence of alcohol, or a similar substance, for them to be intoxicated. 

The laws regarding public intoxication vary from state-to-state. If you are facing criminal charges in Florida, you may want to reach out to a criminal defense lawyer

What Constitutes Public Intoxication?

Florida does not have a “public intoxication” law. But, there is a disorderly intoxication law in this state that addresses public intoxication that disturbs the public. A person can face disorderly intoxication charges if they are:

  • Intoxicated or Drinking Alcohol
  • In A Public Place
  • Disturbing others

Intoxicated or Drinking Alcohol

The first element that the state needs to prove to convict you of disorderly intoxication is that you were intoxicated or drinking alcohol. It’s important to note that you do not need to be drunk in order to face disorderly intoxication charges. Simply drinking alcohol–regardless of how much–is enough to prove this first element of disorderly intoxication.

In A Public Place 

The next element that needs to be proven is that you were in a public place at the time of your arrest. This means you were located in a place that is open to the public, such as a bar, restaurant, movie theater, mall, or park.

Disturbing Others

Finally, the state must prove that you were causing a public disturbance. This means you were engaging in some type of behavior that seriously disturbed others that were present at the time.

In sum, Florida does not have a public intoxication law. However, the state does impose penalties on people who disturb the peace while intoxicated or drinking alcohol in a public place. This crime is referred to as disorderly intoxication.

Possible Legal Consequences 

Disorderly intoxication is a misdemeanor of the second degree in Florida. If you are convicted of disorderly intoxication, you may face serious legal penalties, including up to:

  • 60 days in jail
  • $500 in fines

Repeat offenders can face additional consequences. If you have been convicted of this crime three times within a 12-month period, the state will consider you a habitual offender. These offenders may be ordered to complete treatment as part of their sentence.

How to Fight Disorderly Intoxication Charges 

It is possible to fight disorderly intoxication charges in Florida. Every case is unique, but some of the best defenses include:

  • The place in which they were charged or arrested is not a public area. For someone to use this line of defense, they must be sure that where they were charged is not regarded as a public place according to the laws of the state.
  • The person was not consuming alcohol. You cannot be convicted of disorderly intoxication if you were not consuming alcohol at the time the crime was allegedly committed.
  • The person’s actions could not be described as disrupting public peace or endangering those around. You can beat these charges by proving that you did not engage in any act that disturbed others. But you will need witnesses to corroborate this point. 

What To Do If You Have Been Charged With Public Intoxication 

If you have been charged with public intoxication, you should seek the services of an attorney immediately instead of trying to defend yourself against these charges. An attorney can advise you on laws of the state, help you understand possible defense options, and may even be able to get your charges dismissed.