Los Angeles Public Intoxication Lawyers

Public intoxication, also known as public drunkenness or drunk in public, is a misdemeanor crime covered under disorderly conduct. In California, being drunk in public is unlawful when somebody cannot care for themselves or others’ safety. Those convicted can face serious consequences.

At the Law Offices of Hart J. Levin, we have an amazing track record of dismissing these types of criminal charges. More than 90% of our clients charged with public intoxication have their charges dismissed. As a former district attorney, Hart J. Levin has personally handled over 550 public intoxication cases.

State law describes being drunk or under the influence of controlled substances in public in PC 647(f) as part of disorderly conduct. In the event of an arrest, the officer might claim that you are intoxicated from alcohol, drugs, inhalants, or any other similarly controlled substance, or a combination thereof. The Los Angeles Police Department or Sheriff’s Department (LAPD or LASD) may also claim that you were:

  • in a public place; and
  • unable to care for one’s safety or the safety of others; or
  • interfering with or obstructing public property such as a city street or sidewalk.

Disturbing the Peace (PC 415) and Under Influence of a Controlled Substance (11550 HS) are also commonly charged with public intoxication.

Municipal Code 41.27(c) requires no person to drink any liquor containing more than one-half of one percent of alcohol, 0.005%, by volume in parks, streets, or any public place.

Public Intoxication Defenses

Police officers have a responsibility to ensure that people who are otherwise not causing a disturbance are able to leave a public environment. For example, a person should be able to get a ride home from a friend or request an Uber. Should you be arrested for public intoxication, our highly experienced criminal defense attorneys will argue one or more of the following claims:

  • You were not willfully intoxicated. In this case, the point may be that you were not using illicit substances, you were not unable to care for yourself, or you were intoxicated outside of your control.
  • You were not obstructing a public street or sidewalk. This is a judgment call by officers. In many cases, you may argue that you were not impeding other members of the public.
  • You were not a risk to others or yourself, even if you were in a public place. Examples of this situation might include a person sitting between two parked cars to catch a breath, and those cars were not likely to be moved.

Other defenses arise around the conduct of law enforcement officers and the specific facts of your case. Defense lawyers commonly examine whether or not the officer:

  • adequately addressed you were intoxicated to a dangerous degree; and
  • provided sufficient care allowing you to “sleep it off” overnight or limited your impact on the public.

Penalties and Consequences for Public Intoxication

While it is considered a misdemeanor, the consequences for public intoxication can be harsh. The state penal code charges could result in:

  • jail time of up to six months; and/or
  • fines of $1,000 or more.

Penalties can be more severe if you are under 21. If you already have a driver’s license, you may face suspension for at least one year or a one-year delay if you have not already obtained one. However, our Los Angeles suspended license lawyers can help in these cases. Even those who are not directly involved but allow underage drinking could face consequences. Social host statutes allow for a fine of up to $10,000 if someone enables underage drinking. Other penalties can include loss of license and professional repercussions if you are in a position whose status is affected by a criminal record. It can even result in a change in immigration status or travel restrictions.

Public Intoxication Alternative Sentences

Substance abuse disorder is a psychiatric condition, and some judges are more understanding that a person arrested for public intoxication may benefit from alternatives to incarceration. Alternatives to jail time include treatment such as:

  • Therapy, either with or without drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs that may include out-patient and residential facilities;
  • Required attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous or other 12-step programs designed to stop problem usage; and
  • Behavioral management programs as adjuncts to therapy or the other programs listed above.

In rare cases when the public intoxication charges cannot be dismissed, we are very successful at convincing the courts and prosecutors to allow our client to “earn” a dismissal. This can be done by a period of good behavior with no new arrests, or perhaps attending a few AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings.

We have many creative solutions to dismiss these charges. Having a conviction for drunk in public is very damaging to one’s reputation. It can impact one’s ability to get hired, to get a loan or mortgage, to lease an apartment, etc. It looks terrible on one’s record if they are convicted of a drunk in public charge because it indicates sloppiness and possible substance abuse issues. Convictions for such an offense can follow you for a lifetime unless properly fixed.

Contact Our Public Intoxication Attorneys in Los Angeles Today

Take advantage of experienced lawyers who know the inner workings of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office. 

With the threat of jail time, fines, immigration or travel restrictions, and many other penalties, you need the help of our team of effective and respected public intoxication lawyers at the Law Offices of Hart J. Levin.

With over 100 years of experience in public intoxication defense and penalty reduction, we deliver the results you need. The solution is just a call away. Call (310) 935-3100 for a free consultation now.

Request Consultation
Contact Us

Frequently Asked Questions About Public Intoxication

You may or may not be arrested for public intoxication if you are under the influence of a mind-altering substance in a public area, but odds run against you in many cases. At the Law Offices of Hart J. Levin, we find that law enforcement often uses public intoxication arrests as a means of crowd control.

Yes, you can be charged with public intoxication even if you are in a parked car on the street or in a public parking lot. You could even be charged with attempting to drive while intoxicated depending on where you are in the vehicle at the time officers approach you.

Public intoxication is considered a misdemeanor, even if you are not legally able to drink when you are arrested.

If you’re under 21, you may face additional penalties due to underage drinking. In addition to the possibility of jail time and $1,000 or more in fines, you may also forfeit your driving privileges for a year. If you do not already have your license, you will have to wait at least one year before you can obtain one after you are sentenced by a judge.

There are significant consequences to a public intoxication charge ranging from jail time to fines, community service, loss of licenses, and more. Call our expert public intoxication attorneys who will thoroughly review your case’s facts and assess defenses for your case to earn a dismissal.

The Law Offices of Hart J. Levin have highly experienced public intoxication attorneys who have successfully defended many cases. Our public intoxication lawyers will be acting on your behalf from the very start. We typically appear in court for our clients so they never have to step foot inside the courtroom. We advise each client on the best course of action to help us get their case dismissed or reduced. We work together with our client to come up with solutions that work with their lifestyle and goals to achieve the best possible result: a dismissal.

Our office will then immediately get in contact with both the arresting agency (LAPD or LASD) and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office to gather any documentation regarding your case. Our knowledgeable defense lawyers are experienced with the legal system and will thoroughly review these documents and answer any questions that you may have.

While public intoxication is not a particularly serious offense, having a conviction for public intoxication can be embarrassing and leads to a lot of difficulty in navigating one’s life. It can lead to loss of employment, being kicked out of your apartment, etc. If you or someone you know, have been charged with public intoxication, call the Law Offices of Hart J. Levin at (310) 935-3100. We’ll deliver the results you need.

Public Intoxication Attorneys in Los Angeles, CA

Highly-Rated Public Intoxication Lawyers in LA