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What Is Drunk In Public (DIP)?

Public intoxication, also known as drunk and disorderly, public drunkenness, and drunk in public, is governed by state law and local ordinances. The laws on public intoxication vary depending on one’s jurisdiction. If you have been charge with a DIP offense, you better consult a lawyer to determine your options. Here is a brief look at what a DIP offense is, the penalties, and the defenses.


What is Public Intoxication?


This is a charge alleging that you are visibly under the influence of drugs or alcohol in public. It is normally a misdemeanor crime. Public intoxication law discourages individuals from disturbing people in public and to get rid of people who look and act drunk and are likely to hurt others or themselves.


What Are the Elements of Public Intoxication?


The three elements of public intoxication are:


  • You seem or appear to be;
  • Intoxicated or drunk, and;
  • Are in a public place

In some states, prosecutors are also required to prove that you appeared out of control and unable to watch out for yourself and the safety of other people.


A drunk in public offense does not require you to be drunk in order to be charged. You only need to look drunk or intoxicated by drugs, even if you are not. However, your demeanor and behavior will be used to charge you.


Another basic element of a drunk in public charge is that you have to be in a public place. While there is no specific definition of what a public place is, the court will examine the private or public nature of the place where you were charged with public intoxication.


Penalties for a DIP Offense


The penalties for public intoxication vary depending on one’s jurisdiction and on whether one has a previous offense. In many states, public intoxication is considered a misdemeanor offense. In this case, one can face jail time, probation, community service, fines, or any combination of these penalties. Furthermore, having a prior charge of public intoxication can act as an aggravating factor. In some jurisdictions, an individual who is found guilty of public intoxication may be committed to a centre for drug and alcohol addiction for a couple of days or weeks.


Even though it is a misdemeanor charge, a conviction for public intoxication will remain in a person’s criminal record. This is not only embarrassing, it affects one’s ability to be enrolled into learning institutions, or to find employment since many schools and employers consider one’s criminal records before approving their applications.


Defenses for a DIP Offense


In case you are found guilty of public intoxication, here are some of the defenses your lawyer could raise:


  • You Were Neither Drunk Nor Acting Drunk

You can justify your behavior as enthusiasm arising from a job promotion or excitement because your team excelled in a contest. The burden of proof rests on you to show that your behavior was not out of intoxication but an emotional outburst.


  • Being Drunk in Public Is Not A Crime

In some jurisdictions, there are no laws against being drunk in public. For example, states like Montana, Nevada, and Missouri have no laws against public intoxication. In Milwaukee, public intoxication is permitted. Therefore, depending on where you were cited, your lawyer can argue that public intoxication is not a crime.


  • You Were Not Charged in a Public Place

If you are charged with public drunkenness, one of the elements that must be satisfied is that you were in public. Therefore, if you were charged in a private place, the offense does not hold. If a law enforcement officer tells you to go into a public place where he then charges you with public intoxication, your lawyer may use this defense to absolve you of any wrong doing.


Public intoxication is usually considered an offense because it tends to endanger the drunken person as well as the general public. When charging a person with public intoxication, the courts will need to ensure that the elements of appearing drunk and being in public are satisfied. If you have been cited for a drink in public charge, consult a lawyer to determine your legal options. Considering that the offense could tarnish your criminal record and most probably lead to jail time, hiring a lawyer would be erring on the side of caution.

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