Public Intoxication Charges in Texas
Public Intoxication in Texas is when a person is so intoxicated that they are a danger to themselves or others. This is a relatively high burden, and police officers often do not – or cannot – articulate reasons why they believed a person was a danger to themselves or others.
Common examples of public intoxication charges include officers who arrest passengers in the car of individuals arrested for DWI, individuals who are walking to get in the car and drive but seem to be intoxicated, and individuals leaving bars who seem to have trouble walking.
Note that intoxication, for purposes of public intoxication charges, is not related to a particular BAC. While officers may ask a person they suspect of being “PI,” the truth is they don’t need a blood alcohol concentration to make an arrest for Public Intoxication.
Warning about Public Intoxication Charges
A public intoxication charge is a Class C misdemeanor. Although jail time is not a possibility as punishment, paying a fine on a Public Intoxication citation will result in a conviction on your record.
What is the punishment for Public Intoxication?
A public intoxication charge in Texas is punishable by a fine of up to $500. Additional penalties apply to individuals under the age of 21. If you have two prior convictions for public intoxication, your third offense becomes a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and up to a $2,000 fine.
What is a public place?
Under Texas law, a public place means any place to which the public or a substantial group of the public has access and includes, but is not limited to, streets, highways, and the common areas of schools, hospitals, apartment houses, office buildings, transport facilities, and shops.
Sec. 49.02. PUBLIC INTOXICATION
(a) 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.
(a-1) For the purposes of this section, a premises licensed or permitted under the Alcoholic Beverage Code is a public place.
(b) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the alcohol or other substance was administered for therapeutic purposes and as a part of the person’s professional medical treatment by a licensed physician.
(c) Except as provided by Subsection (e), an offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.
(d) An offense under this section is not a lesser included offense under Section 49.04.
(e) An offense under this section committed by a person younger than 21 years of age is punishable in the same manner as if the minor committed an offense to which Section 106.071, Alcoholic Beverage Code, applies.