Spending an evening out after work or to celebrate an occasion is a perfectly unsurprising diversion for most people. But it might be a surprise to find oneself arrested after having a few drinks during such an event in a public location (e.g. a bar or restaurant) or venturing into public from a private location (e.g. a private residence). In the state of Texas, that is exactly what could happen to you if law enforcement officers assess that you might be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Knowing where Texas stands on the issue of public intoxication is key to avoiding an arrest or fighting a charge if you are arrested.

The Law

So, first things first: let’s talk about the law. The state of Texas addresses public intoxication under Texas Penal Code Section 49.02, where it states that “[a] person commits an offense if the person appears in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that the person may endanger the person or another.” That means that Texas law enforcement officers are granted the right to arrest any people they suspect of public intoxication to the point of being dangerous to themselves or others around them. That’s it. Police officers are not required to administer any field tests or breath tests to support their suspicions; they are not required to collect any tangible evidence that could prove the charge.

Penalties and Punishment

When it comes to punishment for a public intoxication, it is an embarrassing inconvenience at best and a damaging and long-lasting criminal conviction on one’s police record at worst. Public intoxication is designated as a Class C Misdemeanor in Texas for adults of legal drinking age. If convicted, this crime is recorded on your criminal record and carries the penalty of a fine up to $500. (Note: first-time offenders found guilty of public intoxication receive the most basic penalty, usually just a fine; but the penalties can increase if one’s record shows multiple arrests for the same crime or if the person is not of legal drinking age.)

A Strong Defense

Okay, but what should you do if you are arrested and charged with public intoxication? The most important step to take at that point is to retain a lawyer to help with your case. A professional attorney will be able to advise you on what your next steps should be. He will explain and clarify the details of the charges against you and help build a case for dismissal or acquittal and expungement of the blot from your police record.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of needing the services of a top qualified Houston attorney to fight a public intoxication charge for yourself or a loved one, reach out to the professional team at the Law Office of Collin Evans. For experienced legal counsel in the Harris County area, Collin Evans is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is the #1 criminal defense attorney for the job