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Defense Options Available When Facing Public Intoxication Charges

There are several elements to a public intoxication offense. First, you must have been in a public space, rather than a private residence. Streets, sidewalks and parks are definite examples of public spaces. You must also have been under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance and caused a disturbance or endangered yourself or another person or property.

There are a few potential defense strategies to charges of public intoxication, including:

  • No intoxication: You could claim you were not actually intoxicated at the time of the arrest. However, this can be difficult to prove without concrete evidence, such as the results of a blood alcohol test indicating a lack of intoxication.
  • No harm caused: You could concede that you were intoxicated, but argue there was no disturbance or actual/potential harm caused to anyone. Witness testimony can corroborate these claims.
  • Not in a public space: You could argue you were not in a public space at the time of the arrest, or were not voluntarily in a public place at the time of the arrest. For example, if you were ordered out of your home by a police officer and then immediately arrested for public intoxication, you could make a fair argument that being in public was not your choice.
  • Legal medication: You could claim you were under the influence of medication prescribed by a licensed physician, rather than impaired due to alcohol or illegal drugs.

For more information on public intoxication charges and how you can best protect your rights when accused an alcohol-related offense, meet with knowledgeable Berks County criminal defense lawyer David R. Eshelman.


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