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Public Intoxication

A person can be charged and convicted of public intoxication if they are found in any public place under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any controlled substance, and is in a condition where he or she is unable to exercise care for his or her own safety or the safety of others.

Public intoxication can also be found when a person is in a public place while under the influence, and that person interferes with or obstructs or prevents the free use of any street, sidewalk, or other public way. The public intoxication law under California is heavily enforced.

What the Prosecutor Must Prove

The prosecution in a public intoxication case must show that you:

  • Were willfully under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs;
  • Were in a public place or a place open to the public at the time you were under the influence; and
  • Were so intoxicated that you were unable to care for yourself; or
  • Because of your intoxication, you interfered with, obstructed, or prevented the free use of a sidewalk, street or other public way.


Public intoxication is a misdemeanor. A conviction can result in imprisonment in a county facility for up to six months, steep fines, and probation.  If the defendant is under 21 years of age, the defendant can lose his or her driver's license for one year.

If you are facing charges of public intoxication, contact an experienced attorney at Jones Law today.