Getting drunk in public (Public Intoxication) – California Penal Code PC 647(f)

Posted by Raoul Severo | Nov 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

Drunk in public

Public drunkenness or public intoxication is a misdemeanor offense. This is when a person gets in a drunken state and starts to create public disturbance by starting a commotion or a scene. Behaviors like this are taken seriously by the law because an out of control drunk can endanger themselves and others. To be considered as drunk or intoxicated, a person must be proven to have met the following conditions:

  • The accused is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any other controlled substances that altered his/her behavior;
  • The accused caused a disturbance or harm to other people while under the influence; and
  • The accused did the harmful acts in a public place.

To discourage people from doing such improper acts, the state of California enacted Penal Code PC 647(f).

PC 647(f)

California Penal Code PC 647 section f is the statute that penalizes the act of drunk misconduct. Is states that anyone who is found in any public place under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, controlled substance, toluene, or any combination of any intoxicating liquor, drug, a controlled substance, or toluene, in a condition, that they are unable to exercise care for their own safety or the safety of others, or by reason of being under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, controlled substance, toluene, or any combination of any intoxicating liquor, drug, or toluene, interferes with or obstructs or prevents the free use of any street, sidewalk, or another public way. every person who commits the following act is guilty of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor under California laws.

Penalties for Violating PC 647(f)  

Public intoxication is a California misdemeanor under California Penal Code PC 647(f). A misdemeanor is typically more serious in comparison to infractions but less severe compared to felonies. The charges for public intoxication are similar to most disorderly conduct; these are:

  • Serving a six (6) months sentence in county jail; and/or
  • Paying a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000)

However, if the court sees it fit, instead of incarceration, a convicted offender can serve his/her sentence outside jail under probation. For misdemeanor charges, one can be subjected to summary probation. A person under probation for misconduct is expected to follow some of the following conditions as approved by the court:

  • required meetings with a P.O.,
  • the payment of restitution,
  • submission to drug testing, in cases of certain drug crimes,
  • performance of community service,
  • abstaining from alcohol (especially in DUI cases),
  • completion of a treatment program,
  • community supervision,
  • counseling (such as sex offender, anger management, or domestic violence counseling)
  • an agreement to submit to police searches,
  • payment of court costs, and

an agreement not to violate any laws.

Legal Defense

When facing PC 647(f) allegations, here are some of the most common defense that a legal counsel frequently uses:

  • The defendant did not get drunk in a public place;
  • The defendant was involuntarily intoxicated; or
  • The defendant did not cause any interference or obstruction or interference to anyone under a drunken state.

Not in public are: The defendant cannot be charged with disorderly conduct under the influence if he/she did not get drunk in a public place.

Involuntary intoxication: The defendant cannot be charged with disorderly conduct if his/her actions were the results of someone else coercing or forcing him/her to drink, which caused her drunken state.

No interference or obstruction: The defendant cannot be charged with disorderly conduct if his/her actions did not cause any disturbance towards other people while in a drunken state.

Legal Support

In California, disorderly conduct, especially those done under the influence of alcohol or any substance, is a serious criminal offense. These charges can be permanently added to a person's records. A tarnished criminal record can result in a hard time applying for social or civil privileges like employment opportunities. If you or anyone you know are being wrongfully accused of public intoxication or other disorderly conduct, it would be in the concerned party's best interest to coordinate with our California-based criminal defense lawyers. At the Law Office of Raoul Severo you can find the help needed to lower the charges if not dismissing it altogether.


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