Public Intoxication

In Texas, a person can be charged with the Class C Misdemeanor offense of Public Intoxication if the person is in a public place while intoxicated to the extent that the person may endanger the person or another person.  This is a commonly misunderstood offense in the way that each of the elements is defined. 

The first element that is understood is “public place.”  For purposes of this section, a public place can be a bar or a restaurant.  Courts have also ruled that common areas in apartment complexes are public places for the purposes of this offense. 

The second commonly misunderstood element is “intoxicated.”  In this section, intoxication is not defined as a BAC of .08, the way that it is defined under the offense of Driving While Intoxicated.  For this offense, one can be accused of being intoxicated simply by smelling like alcohol or admitting to a police officer that he or she has been drinking.  A breath test, blood test, or field sobriety test is necessary to prove intoxication for the purposes of this offense. 

Finally, the element of being “a danger to himself or others” is very misunderstood.  Any action or inaction interpreted by a police officer as being dangerous can be used for this offense.  Even simply walking on the side of the road where it would be possible to be hit by a car is sufficient to prove this element of the offense. 

Because of the confusing nature of this offense, it is very important that you contact an attorney immediately if you have been charged or arrested for Public Intoxication.