Public Intoxication Charges In Arizona

If you’ve driven down Mill Avenue or Old Town Scottsdale on a Friday or Saturday night, you’ve probably seen some pedestrians who are intoxicated. However, the police will leave the vast majority of those people alone as long as they don’t get behind the wheel and drive. Highly intoxicated pedestrians can still create hazardous conditions on the road and otherwise, so it may seem like public intoxication arrests would be almost as high in Arizona as DUI arrests. However public intoxication isn’t charged as a standalone crime in Arizona. That means if you have been charged with this offense, you are facing one or more other criminal charges. Our Arizona DUI attorneys can handle a variety of criminal charges. Click here or call 480-470-1504 to schedule your free consultation today. 

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What Is Public Intoxication?

Many people have heard of public intoxication in the context of someone, especially a celebrity, being arrested for drunk and rowdy behavior in public. Public intoxication doesn’t need to involve consuming alcohol in public, just that the offender be severely under the influence of alcohol while in public, even if that alcohol was consumed in private. However, while some states may charge offenders solely with public intoxication, it isn’t a standalone offense in Arizona. That means you will not see a defendant in Arizona only facing public intoxication charges. 

There are a variety of criminal charges that involve being arrested while under the influence in public or are otherwise very similar to public intoxication charges. If you’re facing charges that carry jail time, the court will assign a public defender to your case. However, you also have the right to retain the defense attorney of your choosing. Our skilled Arizona DUI lawyers will fight to yield the best possible outcome given the circumstances behind your arrest. Schedule your free consultation by calling 480-470-1504 or clicking here

Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly conduct is probably the closest criminal charge in Arizona to standalone public intoxication. It is defined by A.R.S. § 13-2904. There are six ways to commit disorderly conduct in Arizona. They must be committed with intent to disturb the peace or quiet of a neighborhood, family, or person. The six acts that constitute disorderly conduct in Arizona are:

  • Engaging in fighting, violent or seriously disruptive behavior
  • Making unreasonable noise
  • Using abusive or offensive language or gestures to any person present in a manner likely to provoke immediate physical retaliation by such a person
  • Making any protracted commotion, utterance, or display with the intent to prevent the transaction of the business of a lawful meeting, gathering, or procession
  • Refusing to obey a lawful order to disperse issued to maintain public safety in dangerous proximity to a fire, a hazard, or any other emergency
  • Recklessly handling, displaying, or discharging a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument

Committing disorderly conduct through the last factor, recklessly handling a deadly weapon, is a class 6 felony in Arizona. The rest of the offenses are class 1 misdemeanors. Per A.R.S. § 13-702, the prison sentence for a first-time class 6 felony in Arizona should be between 6 months and 1.5 years. However, mitigating factors can reduce this to 4 months, and aggravating factors can extend this to 2 years. Per A.R.S. § 13-707, the maximum jail sentence for a class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona is 6 months. 

Public Consumption Of a Spirituous Liquor

Public consumption of spirituous liquor in the wrong setting can be a criminal offense in Arizona. A.R.S. § 4-244 lists some unlawful acts involving alcohol in Arizona. The 20th offense states that it is unlawful “for a person to consume spirituous liquor in a public place, thoroughfare or gathering.” A licensee can purchase a license to consume alcohol in a public place, which is separate from a license to sell such alcohol. You can find more information about obtaining a liquor permit at special events in Arizona here

Driving Under The Influence

Another offense tangentially related to public intoxication is driving under the influence. It is defined by A.R.S. § 28-1381. Driving under the influence, or DUI, is a serious offense in Arizona although it is usually charged as a misdemeanor. It is unlawful to operate or have physical control over a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A driver is presumed to be under the influence with a BAC of 0.08 or more.  However, a driver can be considered impaired to the slightest degree with a BAC of 0.05 to 0.08. Drivers of commercial vehicles have a lower legal limit of 0.04. 

Driving under the influence is a class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona with special penalty guidelines. While many first-time offenders in other states may experience a relative slap on the wrist for a DUI offense, Arizona mandates jail time for defendants convicted of impaired driving. The jail time can be much higher, especially if the defendant has prior convictions or was arrested with a particularly high BAC. A BAC that is 0.15 or higher but less than 0.20 is considered an extreme DUI in Arizona. If a driver is arrested with a BAC of 0.20 or higher, it is considered a super extreme DUI. Some aggravating factors will turn a misdemeanor DUI into a felony. 

Potential Defense Strategies

Because there are a variety of alcohol-related criminal charges in Arizona, you may need to use multiple legal strategies at once while defending your case. The charges against you may be simply erroneous- for example, you could be charged with disorderly conduct in a case of mistaken identity or charged with public consumption of a spirituous liquor when you had a valid liquor license for your public event. 

Other defenses against alcohol-related charges come from the Constitution. The police should have reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred before investigating a person for public intoxication. The police should also have probable cause to place a person under arrest for such an offense. Failure to proceed without these requirements being met can make an arrest unconstitutional, which can help get charges dismissed or reduced. If you’re wondering about potential legal strategies to use against alcohol charges in Arizona, click here or call 480-470-1504 to schedule your free consultation with our firm. 

Contact Our Arizona Defense Attorneys For Your Free Consultation

Alcohol-related charges can carry so many penalties in addition to jail time. The charges, conviction, and time taken away from work can put your career in jeopardy. An alcohol-related criminal offense could affect your ability to procure a professional license, or even be used against you in child custody proceedings. There will undoubtedly be fines to pay, and possibly restitution to any victims involved. A convicted defendant will also likely be ordered to complete requirements like drug and alcohol counseling and community service. That’s why your reaction to any type of criminal arrest in Arizona should be a swift and aggressive legal defense. Arizona Zero Down DUI can make all the difference with all that’s on the line in criminal prosecution. If you’ve been arrested for an alcohol-related criminal offense in Arizona, don’t put off preparing for your case- contact us or call 480-470-1504 to schedule your free consultation with our firm today. 

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