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What College Students Should Know About Public Intoxication

What College Students Should Know About Public Intoxication in Texas

Being a college student often comes with late-night study sessions, eating cheap meals and making new friends. However, it can also come with parties that involve drinking in public. This can put you and others in danger, and lead to legal consequences if you’re charged with public intoxication.

What’s Defined as Public Intoxication in Texas?

Texas Penal Code, Section 49.02 states that intoxication means not having the normal use of your mental or physical faculties due to your having alcohol, a controlled substance, drugs, a combination of these substances or any other substance in your body. An alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more also qualifies as intoxication.

This penal code defines public intoxication this way: “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.”

Basically, if you were intoxicated, you were in a public place and you put your own safety or someone else’s at risk, you can be charged under this statute.

But what exactly does the term “public place” mean? Under Texas law, a public place is any location to which the public has access. This includes neighborhood streets, schools, hospitals, grocery stores, restaurants, public parks, office buildings and bars.

Is Public Intoxication a Crime in Texas?

In Texas, public intoxication is a Class C misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500, which applies to both people who are 21 and those below the legal drinking age. However, underage drinkers also have additional penalties due to Texas’ Zero Tolerance Law. These consequences include community service, a 30-day suspension of their driver’s license, and mandatory attendance of an alcohol awareness class.

Even though public intoxication is a misdemeanor, it should be taken seriously. The records of your arrest and case may be part of your permanent criminal record, which can in turn impact future opportunities, from your college admission to jobs you want in the future.

For instance, during the interview process for a job, you may have to disclose and explain your criminal case to an employer.

What Should I Do if I’m Charged With Public Intoxication?

Many college students are eager to move on from their public intoxication case, often representing themselves, pleading guilty and paying the fine as quickly as possible. However, doing so can result in a permanent criminal record.

When you’re charged, don’t plead guilty. Instead, reach out to a lawyer experienced in public intoxication cases. They can assess your case, provide you guidance and determine whether they can build you a defense.

Know Your Rights: Speak With an Attorney Experienced in Public Intoxication

If you’ve been charged with public intoxication, you don’t have to go it alone. At Lee & Wood, LP., we’re experienced in helping people understand their options and guiding them forward. For a confidential consultation with our Fort Worth attorneys, call us today at 817-678-6771 or send us a message.