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Legal defenses for public intoxication charges

On Behalf of | Mar 29, 2022 | Public Intoxication

Tennessee has scores of distilleries and drinking establishments. Despite its party atmosphere, it is still against the law to be drunk out in public.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says millions of people binge drink at least once per week. Since many do so in bars, the law discourages public intoxication.

Legal arguments against charges of public intoxication

Here are the legal elements needed to prosecute public intoxication in Tennessee:

  • The offender may be endangered;
  • There is endangerment to other persons or property; or
  • The offender unreasonably annoys people in the vicinity.

The individual facing charges could claim an absence of nuisance. The prosecution must produce evidence of inconvenience or disruption dealt with by others. Offering the possibility that a passerby could suffer annoyance is not enough.

A defendant might also argue that public intoxication did not occur because no danger was present. Video footage showing someone in control is sometimes enough to successfully defend the charges.

Penalties for guilty findings of public intoxication

Those found guilty of public intoxication in Tennessee can get up to a month in jail. Fines go no higher than $50, but counseling is sometimes ordered. Only defendants free of arrest can get treatment in place of incarceration.

Being charged with public intoxication is a troubling situation. Know what legal defenses are available and avoid the consequences.

State Bar of Georgia
TBA | Tennessee Bar Association
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