One thing everyone knows about South Carolinians is that we love our alcohol. But the last thing you want is to find yourself with a public intoxication charge after a night of drinking with your friends. That’s why it’s important to know what the law says about public intoxication, so that you can stay on the good side of the law and avoid some potentially costly penalties.
What the law says
The police won’t arrest you merely for being drunk while in public. It takes more than that to qualify as an offense that can justify an arrest.
South Carolina’s public intoxication statute penalizes certain disruptive actions taken while you are also intoxicated in public. These prohibited actions include:
- Acting in a disorderly or boisterous manner
- Using profane language within earshot of others
- Firing a gun off of your property and close to a public highway
The penalty for a conviction of public intoxication varies, depending on the specific circumstances. The maximum penalty you might face is a $100 fine or 30 days in jail.
Defenses to a public intoxication charge
If you find yourself with a public intoxication charge, do not worry – a charge is not the same thing as a conviction. You will still have the opportunity to hire an attorney and prepare a defense to present against the charges, in an attempt to get them dropped or reduced.
One common defense against public intoxication is that the place where the police arrested you was not public. Since the elements of the crime require a public place, they cannot charge you if you were intoxicated in a private location.
Your attorney might also argue that the action that led to your arrest does not objectively qualify as boisterous or disorderly conduct, or that you were not really intoxicated at the time.
A misdemeanor charge can ruin anyone’s night out. But by being proactive and hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney in a prompt manner, you can get a jump on preparing your defense and getting ready to fight for your rights.