California’s Drunk in Public Laws


Man drinking liquorCalifornia has laws against being “drunk in public,” and they seem easy to understand.

You’re sitting at a bar with a drink in front of you and talking to no one, but you’re obviously intoxicated, or you’re sitting on a park bench, softly singing to yourself, and you’re obviously intoxicated. Either way, it means that you can be arrested for being drunk in public – right? Wrong! California’s drunk in public laws are very specific. You may be obviously drunk, but you can only be arrested for being so if your actions are:

* making yourself or others unsafe, such as throwing your glass at someone in the
bar, or
* you are causing an obstruction in a public place, such as tossing the park
bench (if you can lift it)into the street or at someone

Drunk in Public Penalties

California is also very specific about penalties for a “drunk in public” conviction. That means you have committed a misdemeanor, which may put you in the county jail for up to six months and/or a fine as high as $1,000.  If you find yourself in this position, you will need the help of a bail bond company.

If you are a repeat drunk driving offender, meaning you have been convicted three times within a period of one year, you face 90 days in a county jail. However, jail time may be suspended if you agree to spend 60 days in an alcohol treatment and recovering program.

After a drunk driving charge, it is also possible that a judge will decide you should be placed on probation instead of going to jail. Although that is a lighter charge, it still gives you a criminal record, which may become a problem if you are seeking a new job or applying for a special license. Therefore, it might be worthwhile to fight the “drunk in public” charge.

A California criminal defense lawyer will work to reduce or even dismiss the drunk driving charges against you. The defense might focus on:

* There is no hard evidence that you were actually drunk. “Beyond a reasonable
doubt is the important point here.
* You may have been drunk, but you were not in a public place when you were
charged. You may get drunk in your home or in a hotel room, but in those cases,
you can’t be charged as “drunk in public.”
* Your civil rights were violated by the police officer who investigated you.

Bail Bond Help

If you face the penalties of a California “drunk in public” charge, you might consider the services of a bail bondsman. The bondsman puts up the money so that you can stay out of jail until the trial or sentencing. The money, in the form of a so-called surety bond, is a guarantee that you will return to court to face charges on a
particular date. That is the bail bondsman’s asset because most people facing “drunk in public” charges just want to stay out jail.