What Are the Penalties for Public Intoxication in Virginia?

Randall Page

There’s nothing wrong with having a good time in Virginia. However, if that good time spills over into the public, you could face charges for public intoxication. It’s important to know what areas are considered public places in Virginia, which include the following:

  • Parks
  • Restaurants
  • Stores
  • Sidewalks, streets, and highways
  • Hotel lobbies, hallways, and dining rooms

The Virginia criminal defense attorneys at Randall Page, P.C. explain the penalties associated with public intoxication in Virginia and why you need an attorney to defend this charge in today’s blog.

What is Public Intoxication in Virginia?

In Virginia, Code §4.1-100 defines public intoxication as a condition where a person has consumed enough alcohol to alter their speech, disposition, behavior, general demeanor, or muscular movement. The altered manner must be so that it can be observed by someone else. On the flip side, Virginia Code §18.2-388 does not limit public intoxication to just alcohol. This portion of the state code also includes drugs and other intoxicants.

The code permits the charge of a misdemeanor if someone faces public intoxication claims. The code does exclude rooms in the public places mentioned earlier where private events are being held. It also excludes alcohol consumption on a boat where alcoholic beverages are not offered for sale. However, the operator of the boat is open to boating while intoxicated charges if they are found to be under the influence.

Detoxification is an Option

It is possible for the officer responding to a call for public intoxication to charge the offender with detoxification under Virginia Code §18.2-388. The officer is allowed to transport the offender to a jail or detoxification center that is approved by the local court instead of placing them under arrest. However, you cannot be placed in one of these places without your consent. The officer can hold you until you sober up though.

Fines for Virginia Public Intoxification

If you are convicted of public intoxication in Virginia and it’s a first offense, you face a fine of no more than $250. If it is a second or subsequent offense, you face a fine of no more than $500. A $500 fine varies based on the number of offenses on your record and where the incident occurred. For example, Roanoke will fine you $500 if it is a third offense and it occurred within a year of your previous offense, according to §21-10 in the Roanoke Code of Ordinances.

Should I Pay the Fine?

In short, no you should not pay the fine. It might seem easier to do so, but doing so is an admission of guilt according to the law in Virginia. This means that your night of fun has now given you a criminal record that will follow you unless you request the record to be expunged.

Call a Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney

If you were charged with public intoxication in Virginia, it’s in your best interest to speak with an experienced Virginia criminal defense attorney. Call the office of Randall Page, P.C. at 757-517-8956, or complete a contact form on our website to schedule a consultation.

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