If you have been drinking and you get drunk, you might think you are safe from being arrested by the police as long as you don’t attempt to drive. Certainly, making the decision to not get behind the wheel of a vehicle and attempting to drive is a good one. However, you can be arrested for being drunk in public (DIP) or public intoxication (PI).
Certainly, charges for either are far less serious than a driving under the influence (DUI) charge and carry much less severe fines and penalties. They are, however, misdemeanors that will end up being part of your criminal record.
Under California Penal Code Section 647(f), you are drunk in public if your intoxication level is such that the police believe that you are a danger to yourself and others. It further states that it is illegal to be in any public place if your intoxication level interferes with, obstructs or prevents others from using the streets, sidewalks or other public ways.
A public place can be pretty much any place outside of a home, including restaurants, bars, malls, parks, buses, public streets and sidewalks. It can also be common areas in apartments or buildings, parking lots, driveways, the front yard and the porch, for example.
A public place can also be a place that is not visible to or frequented by the general public, such as movie theaters, private booths in adult bookstores, spas and massage parlors.
Private places would be inside homes, garages, motel or hotel rooms and the backyard of your house.
The statute is directed towards situations where you are out in public and inebriated to the extent that you are falling down, passed out, impeding traffic on sidewalks or being rowdy because of your intoxication.
If arrested and charged with drunk in public (DIP) or public intoxication (PI), you can face up to as much as six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, in addition to summary probation. If you are convicted of a third DIP in twelve months, you can face a minimum of ninety days in jail.
Just as with any other DUI charge, the arrest really depends on the observations and opinions of the arresting officer, in addition to the blood or breath tests. These chemical tests are often flawed, inaccurate or improperly administered, however. The tests can be attacked during cross examination of the investigating officer as well as the arresting officer’s recollection of the events surrounding the arrest.