Spending an evening out with friends or loved ones often involves having a few good drinks along the way. Unfortunately, while this might be normal it can also lead to serious legal consequences. If Virginia police suspect someone of being drunk in public, he or she could be arrested and criminally charged.
Is it illegal to go out drinking?
It is not against the law to go out and enjoy a few drinks. However, it is against the law for someone to be visibly under the influence of alcohol in a public space. The law itself is intended to prevent intoxicated individuals from disturbing other people or harming themselves.
Drunk in public charges are a little more complicated than most people might realize, though. Someone cannot be convicted for being drunk in public just because he or she was drinking alcohol. Instead, a prosecutor must be able to demonstrate that the defendant:
- Was intoxicated at the time
- Harmed another person or caused a disturbance
- Was in a public place
There are several defense options for defendants who are accused of being drunk in public. For example, one might argue that he or she was not actually under the influence at the time of the arrest, or that there is no evidence of any disturbance. Defining a public space in Virginia is not always as straightforward as it seems, so it might be possible to argue that one was not even in a public space.
Facing any type of criminal charge can place certain limitations on the future. After a drunk in public conviction, some people might struggle to find or maintain employment. This possibility can be exceptionally disconcerting, which is why getting an early start to defense planning is usually a good idea.