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You Were Caught Drunk in Public — Now What?

Laws pertaining to being drunk in public are well-meaning, and you might even agree that alcohol consumption on public property can be a problem. Still, events might happen in your life that cause you to be caught drunk or with an open container in public.

If you have been charged with being drunk in public, you might be worried about what to do next. If you are a college student, you might be even more concerned about your future. Fortunately, you may have a chance to fight in your defense.

Read more to learn about public intoxication and how you should respond to such charges.

Virginia Public Intoxication Laws

Virginia, like many other states, wants to keep the public safe. Additionally, the state wants to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors. For this reason, it is illegal to consume alcoholic beverages in public. Likewise, you cannot be intoxicated in public.

The definition of intoxicated is not necessarily consistent, and it does not necessarily refer to an individual with a blood alcohol content over .08%, the legal limit for driving. Instead, intoxication could be based on a police officer's perception of your behavior.

Public intoxication is a Class 4 misdemeanor in Virginia. Technically, no court date is required for this offense and you can simply pay the necessary fines if you want to plead guilty to the charge. Keep in mind that this is still a criminal offense, not a traffic ticket.

If you wish to fight the charges, you can bring a criminal defense lawyer to your court date. Fighting the charges may be your best option for protecting your reputation and your future.

Virginia Public Intoxication Punishments

Because jail time is not a possible punishment for public intoxication, many people do not believe that they need to hire an attorney. In many cases, this is a mistake.

Many other punishments exist that can have adverse interactions in your life. For instance, you may have trouble returning to commercial driving work. Any job that looks into your background will see a conviction for public intoxication. The charge is on your record forever.

A fine is the most common punishment for public intoxication charges. The fine is typically $250, but it may increase if you receive additional charges in the future.

Additionally, consistent convictions for intoxication in public could lead to interdiction. Interdiction means that the state has decided you are no longer legally allowed to purchase or possess alcohol.

Individuals in the military may face additional punishments through their designated branch. These additional punishments are up to the discretion of military personnel.

What to Do About Public Intoxication Charges

Hiring a criminal defense lawyer is a smart choice if you are fighting charges of public intoxication, especially as a college student. Some colleges may even have their own sanctions for students caught intoxicated in public — especially as minors.

Fighting public intoxication charges rests on two types of defenses. First, you can demonstrate that you were not in public when you were intoxicated. Some attorneys may even be able to demonstrate that you were lured into a public spot by the police officers.

Second, you or your lawyer can argue that you were not intoxicated when you were confronted by the police officers. The prosecutor has the duty to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that you were intoxicated while in a public space.

Do you still have questions about being charged with public intoxication? Call the attorneys at Myers Law, P.C., to learn more. Legal representation is available to help defend your case in court. Set up a consultation today.