Most people assume that as long as they don’t drive after they’ve been drinking, they have nothing to worry about. What they don’t realize is that in California, you can be charged with public intoxication.
While it’s perfectly okay to drink in California, while you’re in public, you’re not allowed to drink to a massive excess. In California, there are two ways your drinking could result in your being charged with public intoxication.
The first is that you can’t be so drunk, you become a danger to yourself and to others. This means that if you leave the bar with the intention of walking home, but are so drunk you’re walking into traffic, picking fights, are doing something that makes the police think you’re endangering either yourself or others, you can be arrested. Its even possible that if you pass out on your walk home and are found by the police that in addition to taking you to the hospital for an exam, they will also charge you with public intoxication.
The other thing you can do that will prompt the police to arrest you for public intoxication is obstructing public ways. If your in the middle of sidewalk, public entrance, or road and people are unable to get around you, you’ll be taken to jail.
In California, public intoxication is a misdemeanor offense. While this isn’t as serious as being accused of a felony, if you’re convicted, you will have a criminal record. It is something employers and anyone else who runs a criminal background check on you will discover. While you can plead guilty to the charges right away, in the long run, it’s usually in your best interest to consult with an attorney who will look at the details surrounding your case and help you decide what the best and least life altering course is.
If you’re convicted of public intoxication in California, the maximum sentence you receive is six months in a county jail and/or a $1,000 fine. It’s common for individuals who are convicted of public intoxication in California to be ordered to take on community service and to pay a fine. In some situations, mandatory substance abuse awareness classes are part of the sentence.