Someone commits the offense of public intoxication if they appear in a public place under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance causing the following;
- The person is likely to endanger himself or herself or another person or property; or
- The person unreasonably annoys a person in his or her vicinity
Arkansas courts have decided that admitting to drinking two beverages at a private location combined with an officer testimony was enough evidence. If the officer witnessed any of the; “smell of alcohol; watery eyes, blurry, and glassy; and behavior” there is sufficient evidence to support a charge of public intoxication.
What qualifies as Public Intoxication?
Anyone who is drinking an alcoholic beverage;
- In a public area
- While on any highway or street
- In any vehicle, or
- In or about any depot, platform, waiting room, or other public places.
This offense does not apply to those who are drinking in a bar or any location that is licensed to sell alcoholic beverages. Churches using sacramental wine during religious events are also exempt. Both drinking in public and public intoxication are Class C misdemeanors. A Class C misdemeanor has a maximum possible fine of $500 and up to 30 days in jail.
Minor In Possession
In Arkansas, it is against the law for anyone under twenty-one years of age to have alcohol in their possession. A common misconception that if they are not holding the alcoholic beverage, they will not fall into the category of possession. However, in Arkansas they would be mistaken. In Arkansas, having any substance in the body of a minor is considered possession by the law. Meaning you are possessing the alcohol by means of your bloodstream, stomach, etc. being the container.
The punishment for a minor in possession normally ranges once taking into consideration of any past offenses and the severity of the current situation. Here is what could happen when being charged as a minor in possession:
- Fine ranging from one hundred to five hundred dollars;
- Written themes or essay for the court;
- Attendance of a Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Impact Panel
- Taking “awareness” classes
- The immediate suspension of your driver’s license
The license suspension alone for the first offense is sixty days and range up to a year with multiple offenses. Perhaps the most inconvenience part of this charge is it will show up on background checks. That is why hiring a qualified lawyer to help guide someone through this process is highly recommended. If working in a field where any of those could impact licensure, employment, or financial future, it is crucial to contact an attorney that can assist them with either fighting the case, or at least minimize the damage.
If you have been charged with Public Intoxication, call George B. Morton with Morton Law at 479-587-9988. Arkansas’s best Criminal Law Experts in the Fayetteville, Springdale, and Washington County areas.