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Is Public Intoxication the Same as Drunk and Disorderly Conduct?

Drunk and disorderly conduct versus public intoxication. You've likely heard both terminologies being used before and may have wondered what the differences are between the two. Both are used interchangeably in most jurisdictions to refer to the same crime: someone being either visibly intoxicated from drugs or alcohol in a public place. Most city and state laws classify such a crime as a misdemeanor.

If you've been charged with public intoxication, you may wonder why it's illegal to be drunk in an open space. One of the reasons being under the influence of alcohol or drugs in public is against the law is because it has the potential to infringe upon others' ability to enjoy themselves.

Lawmakers also created such laws making public drunkenness illegal to protect a potential perpetrator of such a crime from either endangering someone else's life or his or her own.

In order for police to charge you with drunk or disorderly conduct, you must either seem or appear to be intoxicated or drunk and you must be in a public space. In some jurisdictions, prosecutors are required to also prove that you were so out of control prior to your arrest that you posed an imminent threat to either yourself or others.

Loud or disruptive behavior to include swearing or acting tipsy can even be enough to warrant an individual being charged with public intoxication in some jurisdictions.

What's considered to be a public place can vary. While places such as stadiums, government buildings, and malls are likely to be considered public places, in some areas, a neighbor's yard may also be considered one as well.

If you've been arrested on suspicion of being intoxicated in public, then a Christiansburg attorney can advise you of potential penalties that you're looking at in your legal matter.

Source: FindLaw, "Public intoxication," accessed June 07, 2018