Drunk in Public

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What is Public Intoxication “Drunk in Public” in Virginia?

According to Virginia Code § 18.2-388, which criminalizes pubic intoxication drunk in public,

“If any person profanely curses or swears or is intoxicated in public, whether such intoxication results from alcohol, narcotic drug or other intoxicant or drug of whatever nature, he shall be deemed guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.”

This means that it is illegal to profanely curse or swear or be intoxicated in public. The Virginia Court of Appeals has stated that “public” is a “place in open view, visible to the community.” This law has been adopted in many city or county codes: Arlington Drunk in Public (17-7), Fairfax Drunk in Public (5-1-1), Alexandria Drunk in Public (13-1-5).

Many people think of “public” as being at a restaurant, at a bar, or on a crowded, public street. In Virginia, however, you can be charged by being visibly drunk on your own front porch.

What is the Punishment for Drunk in Public in Virginia?

Drunk in public is a Class 4 misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $250. Virginia Code § 18.2-388.

Consult with a Criminal Defense Attorney

While this charge does not involve the possibility of jail time, it is often important to defend against this charge. An experienced Criminal Defense Attorney can help you navigate any defense, lack of evidence, or mitigating circumstances that will help your case. Contact us for a consultation with an experienced Virginia criminal defense attorney.