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What Does Texas Consider Public Intoxication?

 Posted on February 28,2024 in Criminal Defense

Cooke County criminal defense lawyerIn Texas, public intoxication refers to appearing in a public place while intoxicated to the point where you may endanger yourself or another person. The specifics of public intoxication laws and penalties are important to understand if you have been charged with this offense. A Texas lawyer can help you determine the potential outcome of your charges and what you should likely do next.

What Constitutes Public Intoxication?

Under Section 49.02 of the Texas Penal Code, a person commits an offense of public intoxication if they appear in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that they may endanger someone else or themselves. It is vital to know that Texas law does not state a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level that definitively proves intoxication. Officers rely on common signs of intoxication to determine if someone is publicly intoxicated, including:

  • Slurred speech
  • Unsteady balance
  • A strong odor of alcohol
  • Red or glassy eyes
  • Difficulty completing sobriety tests

Just having consumed alcohol prior to appearing in public does not necessarily mean you will meet the standards for public intoxication. Instead, it depends on your outward displays and the officer’s judgment.

Where Public Intoxication May Occur

Many people assume public intoxication can only happen outdoors on streets, sidewalks, or in parks. However, under Texas law, indoor spaces like stores, bars, restaurants, lobbies, parking garages, and stadiums constitute public places. You do not necessarily have to be wandering the streets to face public intoxication charges. Any business or space considered open to the public applies. Even common areas of apartment buildings may fall under public intoxication laws.

Penalties and Punishment in Texas

In Texas, public intoxication is classified as a Class C misdemeanor. If convicted, you face up to $500 in fines. There is no jail time for first-time offenders. Depending on the type of charge, there may not be jail time either, even if it is a repeated offense. Your specific penalty depends heavily on mitigating factors of your public intoxication offense:

  • Criminal history
  • Cooperation with law enforcement
  • Disruption caused at the time of the offense
  • Available defense arguments

It is also possible to have public intoxication charges dismissed through a plea bargain or upon further review of the circumstances. A lawyer can advise you on the best options based on your circumstances.

Contact a Cooke County, TX Criminal Defense Lawyer

Public intoxication allegations can carry steep consequences in Texas, both legally and personally. Never assume you cannot face charges based on location or blood alcohol level. You should be aware of your rights when you face these charges. A Denton County, TX criminal defense attorney can help explain your options. Call Magaña & Van Dyke at 940-382-1976 for a free consultation.

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