Public Intoxication

What is Pubic Intoxication (PI)?

The crime of Public Intoxication is a criminal offense prohibiting a person from appearing 'intoxicated' in a public place. Officers are not required to give a breathalyzer test, and instead rely on their personal observations, such as smell of alcohol, stumbling, slurred speech, and admissions of drinking.

If a public intoxication case goes to a jury trial, the prosecutor will get the officer to testify about personal observations, and the jury may use those facts to decide the verdict. 90% of Public Intoxication cases in Austin are one witness trials, meaning the prosecutor uses one officer's observations to try and prove intoxication.

What You Need To Know

Public Intoxication is when a person appears in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that the person may endanger the person or another. Note that the word "may" appears in the statute. This essentially allows the officer to "predict" whether a person might be a danger. The phrase "may be a danger" is typically the focus of contention in jury trials. Of note is also the phrase "intoxicated to the degree". Meaning that mere intoxication is not enough -- a person must be intoxicated in public to the degree that they may be a danger.

Unlike other states, where Public Intoxication laws do not allow the officer or jury to pretend to predict the future, Texas law actually allows it (due to the 'might' be a danger language). Often the best defense is that there was no likely danger, and that the person, while intoxicated, was acting reasonably and would continue to do so.

Defenses for Public Intoxication

Our goal is dismissal. Because most Public Intoxication cases are Class C misdemeanors, there is often a good chance for an attorney to negotiate a dismissal on a Public Intoxication case, which would entitle the person to seek an Expunction later.

If you'd like to talk in detail about your situation, or if you have questions, contact us for a Free Case Consultation. Keep in mind, Keates Law Firm only practices in Austin and Travis County.

Work with an Experienced Public Intoxication Attorney

Hiring the right attorney from the beginning is important. Poor legal decisions will have a negative effect upon the case as it progresses. The Keates Law Firm has over 16+ Years Experience handling Public Intoxication cases. IN fact, one of the first Jury Trials for Robert Keates was a not guilty on a Public Intoxication case. And to this day our focus is to try and have the case dismissed against you. We don't even discuss pleas until all legal and negotiation options have been explored in detail.

Call Us to talk about your particular case and situation. It's a 100% Free Phone Consultation with Criminal Defense Attorney Keates. No Sales Pitches, No Hassles. We'll see if we are the right Law Firm for you, and give you a quote. Be sure to check out Keates Law Firm's Reviews and also our past cases and Results.

The Law in Texas - Public Intoxication


(a) 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.

What are the Punishments?

For individuals arrested for Public Intoxication who are over the age of 21, the punishment for being Drunk in Public or Public Intoxication is a Class B Misdemeanor, meaning the individual could face up to six months in state jail and fines of up to $2000. An offense under this section committed by a person younger than 21 years of age is punishable in the same manner as if the minor committed an offense to which Section 106.071, Alcoholic Beverage Code, applies, meaning for individuals arrested for Public Intoxication who are under 21 years of age, the offense is considered a Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by fines of up to $500, along with the potential to Suspend a Driver's License or Delay the ability to obtain one.

Penalties for Public Intoxication
Level of Offense Punishment
Class C Misdemeanor Not Jailable, No more than $500 fines
Class B Misdemeanor Not more than 180 days in a county jail, and/or no more than $2,000 fines

Priors and 2nd Offenses:

For repeat offenders under the age of 21, who have been previously convicted of Public Intoxication twice, the offense is punishable by a fine ($250 to $2,000) and the possibility of jailtime (between 0-180 days), or both.

How We Can Help

Your goal should be Dismissal for any Public Intoxication charge. A Dismissal will allow a person to later seek an Expunction of a Criminal Record, which is where a Judge Orders the offense records destroyed, including police reports, court records, and prosecutor files.

Keates Law Firm has a track record of dismissals for Public Intoxication. Most Public Intoxication cases result in negotiated dismissals, where there's usually a trade-off of community service and a class in exchange for a dismissal -- but not always. The main hurdle is convincing the prosecutor to agree to dismiss the case, and Keates Law Firm has experience in Austin's Travis County courts doing just that.

Keates Law Firm also has a successful history of being retained by local businesses and bars for this type of offense. We also discount the rates for bars or businesses that retain our services on Furnishing of Alcohol to a Minor cases.

Benefits of Working with Keates Law Firm:

  • Direct Access to Attorney's Email and Cell (Texting Okay!)
  • Robert handles your case, not a junior lawyer
  • Trusted, Local, BBB+
  • Free Case Consultations
  • Payment Plans available
  • Transparent Fees - No Unexpected Fees!
  • Proven Results, Recent Not Guilty Verdicts and Dismissals.

Our Reviews and Results

Our Results Speak for Themselves. Keates Law Firm has a record of Dismissals and Acquittals in a variety of criminal cases. We are dismissal focused, and we get results.
  • DWI Jury Trial: NOT GUILTY
  • Harassment Offense: Jury Trial: NOT GUILTY
  • Felony Possession of Marijuana/Hashish Dismissed
  • DWI 2nd (Drugs): Dismissed
  • DWI (Alcohol and Drugs): Dismissed
  • Felony Theft of Stolen Property: Dismissed
  • Assault, Bodily Injury: Jury Trial: NOT GUILTY
  • See More Results!

Payment Plans

Legal Fees are typically unexpected, so Keates Law Firm realizes that most people don't have thousands of dollars immediatly available after an unexpected arrest. Keates Law Firm offers no interest Payment Plans for legal fees for cases in Austin, Travis County. Most Payment Plans require a credit or debit card on file, with a deposit for representation. Attorney Payment Plans are paid monthly with no interest. Payment Plan Lawyers in Austin, Travis County are few, but Keates Law Firm has had success and many happy clients who appreciate spreading out legal fees over payments. Check out our Austin Attorney Payment Plans page for more details, or call for a Free Consultation.

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