Drunk in Public - California Penal Code 647(f) pc

According to California Criminal Code Section 647(f), it is illegal to be drunk in public or, "in any public place under the influence of alcohol or drugs in such a condition that you are unable to exercise care for your own safety or the safety of others, or to interfere with, obstruct or prevent the free use of any street, sidewalk, or other public way."

In some cases, police may opt to place an individual arrested for excessive drinking in public in civil protective custody (drunk tank) for up to 72 hours. This allows the individual to be evaluated and will be a bar to further prosecution.

It’s possible to fight this California Penal Code 647 charges on several fronts. If police determined your blood alcohol content (BAC) with a breath or blood test, both the test results and their significance can be challenged in court proceedings. In other words, the test may not have been accurate, and even if it was, does that mean that you met the legal definition of a person who posed a danger to yourself or others?

Another potent weapon when fighting a drunk in public charge in California is the arresting officer’s own recollections. Just as in a drunk driving case, police tend to make notes of things that support the allegation that you were impaired, but under cross-examination in court, it’s possible to extract details that demonstrate that you didn’t pose a danger to anyone, and to challenge the accuracy of the officer's recollection of the event.

Although a California public intoxication charge isn’t as serious as a DUI / DWI allegation, it’s still a criminal offense that carries repercussions as well as the threat of a public criminal record.