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?