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Disorderly Intoxication Charges in Florida

Man in handcuffs holding hands out in front of himself.

If you've been charged, a criminal defense attorney can help.

In Florida, it's unlawful for anyone to be intoxicated and pose a risk to others or property. Additionally, state law prohibits public intoxication and consumption of alcohol that leads to a public disturbance.

Understanding how disorderly intoxication charges work in Florida is important for making informed decisions and pursuing the best possible outcome in a case. If you've been charged in Clay County or anywhere in Northeast Florida, you need to act fast to protect your freedom. The criminal defense lawyers at Aguilar & Sieron, P.A. in Green Cove Springs can help. Here's what you need to know.

Florida's disorderly intoxication law

Public disorderly intoxication is addressed in Florida Statute 856.011. Here are the highlights:

  • "No person in the state shall be intoxicated and endanger the safety of another person or property."
  • "No person in the state shall be intoxicated or drink any alcoholic beverage in a public place or in or upon any public conveyance and cause a public disturbance."

Disorderly intoxication is usually a second-degree misdemeanor. The charges can be enhanced if a person is a "habitual offender" - convicted of disorderly intoxication three times within 12 months.

What happens when police are called for disorderly intoxication?

When police are called to a situation involving disorderly intoxication, their approach to resolving the incident can vary based on the specific circumstances they encounter. The responding officer has several options, including:

  • The individual may be arrested and charged with disorderly intoxication, which will lead to police custody and arraignment in court as soon as possible.
  • Without an arrest, the individual could still be charged and issued a court summons for disorderly intoxication, with an arraignment scheduled as soon as possible.
  • In some cases, no charges are filed, and the intoxicated person is sent home, either with the assistance of a professional service or a responsible acquaintance, such as a family member, or through transportation options like Uber or a taxi.
  • Alternatively, the police officer may provide a ride home to the intoxicated individual without filing any charges.
  • If the situation involves serious injury or illness, the officer's priority may shift to securing emergency medical care for the individual. Depending on the outcome, charges might be filed at a later date or not at all.

Proving disorderly conduct in Florida

In Florida, simply consuming alcohol to excess is not in itself illegal; the issue arises when such consumption leads to disorderly intoxication. For a conviction of disorderly intoxication, the prosecution must establish three critical elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The person was visibly intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol.
  • This state of intoxication directly led to behavior that either:
    • Disturbed the peace and public order,
    • Or endangered the safety of individuals or property.
  • The disorderly conduct occurred in a public setting or while using public transportation.

Defense strategies against disorderly intoxication charges require a nuanced understanding of the law and experience successfully handling such cases. Depending on the details of the case, a defense attorney might challenge the presence of actual endangerment or intoxication or dispute whether the location of the incident qualifies under the statute.

Disorderly intoxication penalties

The penalties for disorderly intoxication, often referred to as drunk and disorderly conduct, can significantly vary based on the individual's history and the specific laws of the jurisdiction where the arrest occurred. While some cities and counties have their own ordinances concerning public intoxication, the State of Florida outlines the following potential penalties for disorderly intoxication:

  • A maximum of 60 days in jail.
  • A fine of up to $500.
  • For individuals identified as habitual offenders, the state imposes enhanced penalties, including a mandatory 60-day treatment program.

Beyond these immediate penalties, the long-term implications of a disorderly intoxication conviction can be far-reaching. Such a conviction may remain on a person's record for years, surfacing in background checks conducted by prospective employers, loan officers, educational institutions, and landlords, among others. Despite appearing minor, the long-term effects of a conviction can significantly impact your life.

We can protect your freedom

With disorderly intoxication, it's not just about knowing the rules; it's about understanding how they apply to your unique situation. At Aguilar & Sieron, P.A., we know the law. A former Florida prosecutor who has been widely honored by his peers for decades, attorney Mark Sieron believes strongly in making sure his clients are respected.

If you have been charged with disorderly intoxication in Clay County or another Northeast Florida community, contact us today for a free case evaluation. We know what's at stake, and we promise to fight for the best possible outcome in your case.

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