Public intoxication [Fla. Stat § 856.011] is a misdemeanor charge. The penalties for this offense may include community service, fines and banishment from a bar or restaurant if the offense was committed there. Many view this offense to be embarrassing and inconvenient. But multiple disorderly intoxication charges in St. Petersburg can negatively impact your criminal record, education and possibly even future employment opportunities. So it’s possible that you could be dealing with the fallout from such a conviction for years to come.
Florida statutes define public intoxication as being in a state of inebriation that, “endangers another person or property – OR – a person who is drinking an alcoholic beverage in a public place and causes a disturbance.”
For the purposes of prosecution, “intoxication” is defined in the statutes as a suspect who is “so affected by the alcoholic beverage as to have lost or been deprived of the normal control of either his/her body or his/her mental faculties, or both.” In other words, the suspect is “drunk.”
But notice that the statute doesn’t mention a standard of measure (like a blood alcohol test that is used in determining if one is driving while intoxicated – DUI). So disorderly intoxication – like disorderly conduct – is based more on subjective observation. Even if the suspect admits to a police officer that he or she was drinking, this admission, in and of itself, is not enough evidence to support a disorderly intoxication charge. However, it can be presented as supporting evidence at trial to underscore witness and arresting officer testimony, as can any video evidence that may exist of the suspect and his or her behavior.
Penalties for Disorderly Intoxication Charges in St. Petersburg
In Florida, a disorderly intoxication charge is a second-degree misdemeanor. If the suspect is convicted, it carries the following penalties: [Fla. Stat §§ 775.9-2-803]
- A jail sentence of up to 60 days
- A fine not in excess of $500
- Up to 6 months of probation
If this is a first-time offense and the suspect displays a minimal threat to the public or has no criminal history, a jail term – other than the time a person spends before he or she bonds out – is unlikely. But that doesn’t mean the offender won’t have to pay the fine and be on probation for a few months (cost more money in the fees paid to the probation department, plus more complications). If, however, this is a third offense over a year’s time, it becomes more serious and can involve confinement in a public health facility [Fla. Stat §§ 856.011 (3)].
Those convicted of public intoxication find themselves with an entry on their criminal record that many view as having a problem with alcohol or substance abuse. The long-term repercussions on one’s future employment, college admission, and the ability to secure a professional license (lawyer, doctor, engineer) or getting a security clearance could be affected.
Defenses of Public Intoxication in St. Petersburg
There are several available defenses for disorderly intoxication charges:
- No real proof you were intoxicated or that you endangered the public
- The incident occurred in a non-public place, such as a party at someone’s house or on private property to which you were invited
- Self-defense (someone attacked you or forced a physical altercation)
- Defending someone else involved in a physical altercation
If you or a family member has been arrested for disorderly intoxication, there are likely effective defenses that we can use and penalties we may be able to minimize. Contact Goldman Wetzel at 727-828-3900 or fill out our online contact form.