Alternate definitions in public intoxication cases

There is only one “official” definition of intoxication for Texas Public Intoxication charges: 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.

Although the statute is listed in the DWI chapter of the Penal Code, neither of the definitions of intoxication for DWI apply in Public Intoxication or PI charges.

But the definition is fairly vague, isn’t it? I’m not saying there aren’t folks who are so smashed on 6th Street here in Austin that fit that definition. There probably are.

However, most folks arrested for PI probably fit what I call the alternate, non-legislated, non-statutory definition: frankly, they pissed off the cop.

Some officers would probably admit that they know a Public intoxication charge won’t stick in the long run, or that the defendant can fairly easily sign up for a deferred disposition, take an alcohol class, stay out of trouble for 6 months and get it dismissed.

Classic case of “You can beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride”. My two cents worth? Even though you’re not actually a danger to yourself or others, if you’ve been drinking, especially in Downtown Austin, and a police officer comes up and starts asking you questions, be very polite.

You might eventually beat that public intoxication arrest, but wouldn’t you rather have taken a cab home than spend the night in the Travis County Jail?

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Comments (6) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Windypundit - February 2, 2007 11:33 AM

Even if you haven't been drinking, isn't Misdemeanor Disrespect of Cop still a crime in every state?

Gwen Watson - July 26, 2008 11:17 AM

Dear Mr Spencer,
My husband was arrested for DWI. The officer approached me, still seat belted in my vehicle, not saying a word. He informed me he was placing my husband under arrest for DWI, He then told me I must contact someone to come and get me or he would be taking me to jail. I told him I had already been trying to call someone on my cell phone. I then got a hold of my 27 year old son. The officer spoke with him using my cell phone and told him he could come a get me. I remained seatbelted in my vehicle. The officer stood there in my space, knowing I was upset about my husband being arrested. Who wouldn't be when their loved one has just been handcuffed and placed under arrest? I never moved from my seat or tried to take off my seatbelt. Officer did ask me if I had any drinks that evening. I said yes. While he was standing there he was attempting to provoke me or hope that I would get upset and get out of my vehicle. I did not. But during his standing there I did make a remark, that, 'my husband was going to be so angry with me he was going to kill me and I might as well do it myself". I realize this was not the right thing to say. On the other hand I am on Disability for mental illness. I recieve a check from SS, as well as pension from University and "long term" disability from an Insurance company. I am listed with severe GAD(genralized anxiety disorder), PTSD, agoraphobia,(a form of mental illness that makes a person extremely uncomfortable being in public or under stressful, unusual sitations), panic attacks which prevent me from ever driving, suicidal ideologies, amongst other things. Bob Richardson Law Firm got me approved for SS Disability with no hearing due to my mental conditions. This is quite rare and it typically takes several appeals to get approved. Which proves my conditions are multiple and quite severe in nature. I also have numerous health conditions, such as epilepsy in which I take Phenobarbital at bedtime daily, restless leg syndrome
another neurological sleep disorder, degenerative disk disease, cervical stenosis, degenerative arthritis in both hips(right hip has been replaced), and knees as well as other joints. When the office said I was under arrest for a PI, after I made the comment due to stress and a "mental melt down" I pleaded with him no. When he placed me in the police car I pleaded to be taken to Shoal Creek Hospital for immediate observation. During the entire trip to Travis County I pleaded to be taken to the hospital. My hands where so cut up from the tightness of the handcuffs that it took over a week for the wounds to heal. I now believe I will be contacting Hep C due to these handcuffs. Of course this may not be a rational thought process, but I do not have a normal
rational thought process due to my severe GAD.

I have NO previous arrests or history. I am 53 years old almost 54 in Sept. My daughter and grandson live in Australia. My husband has just been rehired with Haliburton. I wanted to be able to go visit my daughter in the next 2 years. If I plead guilty or nolo contendere, it will be on my permanent record. I don't want a record. If I get a record it could prohibit me from being able to enter into Australia. If do deferred disposition I will be ordered to do community service, something I do not feel I am physically or mentally able to do. Although possibly I could do some. Still that does not remove the arrest and it will take six months to complete from my understanding. Then it appears as though I will then have to hire an attorney to have this expunged.

Isn't there an Americans for Disability Act? Would this act apply?

Can someone please HELP me. I am really losing lots of sleep over this and it isn't helping my mental condition at all. In fact it is actually taking a severe psychological toll.

Thanks in advance for responding to my email and very troubing issue in locating an attorney willing to consider my case.

Respectfully,
Gwen Watson

steve laks - August 21, 2008 10:20 AM

I got a P.I. in Austin, 8/16 and would like to hire a layer, thanks plaese contact me,,

Steve

Casey - July 7, 2009 12:24 PM

I was arrested on the charge of public intoxication at a restaurant. There was a fight that broke out in which i was caught up in, i was not the ones fighting but merely a bystander in the wrong place. I was never asked to take a breathalyzer nor was i asked if i was drinking, do i have any rights to fight this with

Scott - August 4, 2010 5:48 PM

I was on a jury for a P.I case. We found the defendent guilty and fined Him the max of $500.oo in less than 15 min......... I don't think this is a joke...... Don't let me be your jourer

Donald P Dupier - February 19, 2013 3:09 PM

Public Intoxication is not a law in most states. Strange Texas is one of them. The burden of proof is what is in question, being it is one words against a police officer. Anyone who has ever been thrown in the drunk tank, even during a huge event, can easily tell, drunk or not, hardly anyone thrown in for a PI is really drunk. Most States have a "Disorderly Person's offense, a class C. It is just one of those laws on the books here that can not be proven by any sort of breathe test, and can be random like as in the Movie that quite embarrassed the TABC and the Ft WOrth Police Dpet, "Raid on the Rainbow Lounge." But who would stand up to make a P I unconstutional? There is no profit in it for attorney's. It is a very degrading and excissive and unreasonable fine.

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