With Spring Break right around the corner, this is a good time to remind Alabama residents and visitors of the consequences of a public intoxication charge. Although most of us have heard of “public intoxication,”the legal definition may not be as widely known. Before you hit the beach parties and the clubs this year, consider the risk of having a little too much fun. Here’s what you need to know:
Why should you be careful?
Alabama classifies the offense of public intoxication as a violation. Violations carry a jail sentence of no more than 30 days and a maximum fine of $200. Many times a court will have you go through the court referral program and require random drug and alcohol screening. Though a conviction for public
intoxication in Alabama may not be as serious as some other criminal charges, it can still hinder you from getting a job, or losing the one you have. There are many ways to commit this particular crime, butthere are also defenses available that may help you avoid a guilty verdict.
How is public intoxication defined in Alabama?
Under Alabama law, the offense of public intoxication refers to appearing in a public place while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, simply appearing to be under the influence is not sufficient. In order to be lawfully charged with this crime, it must be shown that an individual was acting in a way that endangers themselves, another individual, or property. It can also be shown that the individual was annoying another person by behaving in a boisterous or offensive manner.
What constitutes a “public place?”
Under Alabama law, the term “public place” means a place to which either the public or a substantial group of people have right of entry. Here are a few common examples of public places:
-common areas of apartment buildings, such as hallways, lobbies, and other areas not designed for residence.
Common defenses to a charge of public intoxication:
Since simply being under the influence of drugs or alcohol in public is not enough to prove the offense, there are several common defenses available, depending on the circumstances. If you did not pose a danger to anyone or yourself by being intoxicated, that would be a defense (i.e., the “quiet drunk”). Also, if you were not being boisterous or annoying. There are many other defenses that may apply, so consult with an Alabama criminal attorney to discuss your options.
If you have questions regarding public intoxication, or any other criminal defense matters, please contact Ketcham Law for a consultation by calling us at (205) 296-4233.