A Look at Public Intoxication in Georgia
In some areas, being drunk in public isn’t exactly legal, but isn’t exactly frowned upon either, provided the intoxicated person is behaving themselves. In places like Las Vegas and even the French Quarter, drinking in public in certain areas is permissible. What about Georgia?
Here at home, public intoxication, or being drunk in public, means that a person has the appearance of being intoxicated and is being loud, vulgar, boisterous or profane. Alternatively, they may appear indecent, such as being partially nude, or behaving indecently, such as urinating on the sidewalk.
Let’s say that a person has a bit too much to drink and decides they are better off walking home than getting behind the wheel. As long as that person doesn’t present a danger to themselves or others and is behaving properly, they can walk home without incident. It is when that person is stumbling along, acting in a rude way or otherwise behaving poorly that they may find themselves cited for public intoxication.
Being cited for public drunkenness in Georgia is a misdemeanor. If found guilty of the crime, a person can be sentenced to up to a year in jail, a $1,000 fine or both. There are several defenses that may be presented when a person has been cited for public intoxication. These include:
- Not being intoxicated. This can be difficult to prove, as judges and juries are likely to believe the testimony of the arresting officer. A person who is charged with public intoxication is not typically administered a breathlyzer test, making it difficult to show that they weren’t under the influence.
- No harm caused. An officer will have to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was acting in a vulgar manner or behaving indecently. A defense attorney may argue that their client was not behaving inappropriately at the time of their arrest.
- Not a public place. To be arrested for public intoxication, a person must actually be in public. If the person was on private property or was coerced onto public property by police officers and then arrested, this can be raised as a defense.
Even though public intoxication is a relatively minor offense, it can still have serious consequences if a person is convicted. Being convicted of any crime can make it difficult for a person to find employment, enter school or find housing. If you are cited for public intoxication, do not take your charges lightly — and do not assume that you would be better off to plead guilty.
If you have been charged with public intoxication in Atlanta, you need the experience of our criminal defense team behind you. Reach out to Hawkins, Spizman & Fortas today for a free case evaluation and learn more about your legal rights. We have knowledge of local courts and we will put it to work for you. Call today to schedule your appointment.