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Understanding the defenses to the charge of public intoxication

Drunk driving is illegal in all states, of course. What many people do not realize is that being drunk and disorderly in a public place can be a crime.

If you have been accused of public intoxication in Tennessee, it is vital that you take the time to fully understand where the law stands on this. By doing so, you will be able to take the appropriate action by asserting your rights and defending yourself.

What is a public intoxication charge?

For a person to be charged with public intoxication, three elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

First, it should be shown that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Second, they must have been present in a public place when they were under the influence.

Third, it must be shown that the defendant caused harm or disturbance to another person.

What are the most common defenses?

Defendants have legal options, because disproving just one of the elements is enough to have the charges dropped.

The first and perhaps the most obvious defense option is arguing that you were not intoxicated. You could argue that your behavior was a result of enthusiasm, joy or anger. You could also attribute your behavior to a specific condition that you have.

You may also be able to argue that you were not in a public place at the time the event took place. For example, if you were in your back yard when you were accused of causing an intoxicated disturbance, in theory, you were on private property.

You could also dispute the accusation that you caused a disturbance or harm. If there is no proof of the alleged actions, you may be able to successfully defend yourself.

If you have been accused of public intoxication in Tennessee, it is important that you do not waste time in taking action. By understanding the law and asserting your rights, you will have the best chance of defending yourself.

State Bar of Georgia
TBA | Tennessee Bar Association
CBA | Chattanooga Bar Association
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