Even those who think of themselves as law-abiding citizens may engage in seemingly innocent behavior that could lead to criminal prosecution. For example, you might agree to meet your friends at a local sports bar to cheer for your college team.
You enjoy several rounds celebrating a victory or grieving a brutal loss. By the end of the night, you realize that you should not try to drive in your current condition, so you decide to walk home instead. On the surface, that seems like an intelligent, safe decision.
However, while you may avoid drunk driving charges and the risk of causing a crash, you could potentially end up prosecuted for public intoxication. Georgia can and does still bring charges against those who are visibly drunk in public.
What constitutes public intoxication?
The only places that you can legally display signs of impairment are in your own home and inside businesses licensed to serve alcohol. However, bars, restaurants and similar venues will have to stop serving you additional beverages to remain compliant with Georgia liquor laws once you show signs of visible intoxication. They can only give you another drink once you sober up enough to stop swearing your speech or falling out of your chair.
Those on private property or in public areas while displaying visible signs of impairment could end up arrested by the police even if they do nothing else against the law.
What are the penalties for public intoxication?
In scenarios in which someone damages property or hurts someone because of their drunken behavior, there could be compensation due to other parties. Beyond that, the state may charge the person involved with a misdemeanor offense.
As a misdemeanor offense, public intoxication could lead to up to $1,000 in fines and possibly a year in jail. Judges can sentence people to community service, alcohol education and probation instead of incarceration.
There are numerous ways for someone to defend against claims of public intoxication. For example, you could demonstrate that there was a medical issue you were unaware of that exacerbated your impairment or prove that you only purchase two drinks and were unaware that the staff at the bar made them unusually strong.
Making sense of the criminal statutes that you may have unintentionally violated can help you explore options for a criminal defense strategy.