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Public Intoxication In Texas

Texas Penal Code 49.02 – Public Intoxication

What is Public Intoxication?

Let’s take a brief look at the statute discussing public intoxication, commonly referred to as a “PI” (shown in italics below):

“A person commits an offense if the person appears in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that the person may endanger the person or another.”

Texas Penal Code 49.02(a) tells us you can be arrested for a PI if you are in a public place and are intoxicated to the point that you may be a danger to yourself or others.

What does“intoxicated” mean?

Let’s look at the legal definition of “intoxicated” (shown in italics below):

“Intoxicated” means:

(A) not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or

(B) having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.”

49.01(2)(A)-(B) tells us that someone is intoxicated when their blood alcohol concentration is .08 or higher.

However, the statute tells us it can also mean that you simply do not have the normal use of your mental or physical faculties because of alcohol, an illegal drug, a legal drug, or a combination of those substances.

What is a “public place?”

A public place under Texas law is any area members of the public can readily access. Examples include streets, highways, parking lots, apartment complexes, or as a passenger in a car.

The list is extensive and these are but a few examples.

Is a bar or restaurant considered a “public place?”

Yes. 49.02(a-1) explains that a bar or restaurant that sells alcohol is automatically considered a “public place.”

When am I considered a danger to myself or others?

Defining when a person is a danger to oneself or others is difficult. It is determined on a case by case basis and based on the police officer’s judgment.

Examples include, but are certainly not limited to, when a person cannot walk upright unassisted, generally out of control behavior, or when a person is so intoxicated they may attempt to drive home.

What is the punishment for public intoxication in Texas?

For adults ages 21 and up, 49.02(c) tells us that a PI is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $500.

For minors under 21, a PI is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $500, 8-12 hours of community service, an alcohol awareness course, and a thirty day suspension of the minor’s driver’s license.

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