Why the Officer Doesn’t Need To Breathalyze You To Arrest You for Drunk in Public

November 21, 2022
depressed drunk man asleep outdoor on a park bench with beer bottles

Being arrested for Drunk in Public can be nerve-racking and feel silly. This is particularly the case for someone without any criminal record. To make matters worse, there will often be the temptation to just pre-pay the offense. Pre-paying a charge is a mistake because it counts as a criminal conviction. Another big mistake in these cases is the mistaken belief that the police officer has to breathalyze you to make a valid arrest or prove a Drunk in Public case in court. 

If you’ve been charged, you’ll want to work with experienced lawyers that can guide you throughout the process. At Rudolphi Law, you can have the legal advice and support that you need. 

What is Drunk in Public?

Drunk in Public, also called Public Intoxication is a violation of the law under  Virginia Code § 18.2-388 and/or under an analogous local ordinance. The allegation is that you appeared in public or in the public view in a state of intoxication. Under Virginia case law, one can be Drunk in Public even if they are on their own property if they are nonetheless in public view. 

Drunk in Public is a Class 4 Misdemeanor. This means it is only punishable by a fine of up to $250. However, for many residents of Arlington County, and Fairfax County, a conviction under this charge can have lasting ramifications because it is still considered a criminal offense. 

Can You Still Be Convicted of Drunk in Public in Virginia Without a Breathalyzer?

In Virginia, officers can rely on code §4.1-100 to determine if a person is intoxicated. Under this code, intoxication is defined as a condition in which someone has consumed enough intoxicants to show visible changes in manner, speech, disposition, muscular movement, and demeanor.

These standards mean that you can be charged with an alcohol-related offense even if you don’t submit to a breathalyzer test. This not only includes DWI offenses, but also Drunk in Public. Unlike DWI offenses where chemical testing is commonplace, officers do not rely on breath or blood tests for an arrest. This is why careful consideration of your appearance, demeanor, and disposition when interacting with the police is essential to a thorough analysis of your Virginia Drunk in Public charge.

How Criminal Defense Lawyers in Fairfax VA Can Help

If you were charged with, you must hire a Fairfax criminal lawyer. An attorney can assess the case and work to achieve the best possible outcome.

If there were police errors, you might be able to escape legal penalties. A lawyer could also negotiate with the prosecutor to seek a creative resolution to the case.

Don’t try to face your Drunk in Public charge alone. Contact Rudolphi Law today to discuss your case and learn more about your options. Call us today at (703) 596-9566 to schedule a free consultation.