What Do Oklahoma’s Public Intoxication Laws Mean?

friends at a bar

When a night out gets a bit too rowdy and you consume alcohol in a venue other than a licensed restaurant or bar, you can be charged with public intoxication. But where is the line between a fun night out and a public intoxication charge? Our Norman criminal defense attorneys explain what you should know before grabbing a few drinks with friends.

What Is Public Intoxication?

Public intoxication is a misdemeanor charge related to the unlawful consumption of alcohol or if an intoxicated person “disturbs the peace” or endangers others. For a person to be charged with public intoxication, one of the following three things must occur:

  • The person consumes alcohol in a vehicle or other public location that is not licensed to sell liquor, wine, or beer,
  • The person is drunk in public, or
  • The person is intoxicated and endangering or harassing others.

If a person violates one or more of these guidelines, they can be charged with public intoxication by local authorities. An individual can be charged with public intoxication in a bar or restaurant licensed to sell alcoholic beverages — even if the alcohol is consumed at that bar — if they are bothering other patrons.

With these guidelines, passengers in vehicles can be charged with public intoxication, even if they are in the backseat of the vehicle and not near the driver’s seat. Public intoxication charges can also be escalated to a DUI if you get behind the wheel while impaired by alcohol or other drugs.

What Are the Consequences of a Public Intoxication Charge?

If you are charged with public intoxication, you face a sentence of 5 to 30 days in jail or a fine of $100 to $1000. You can face both legal penalties if deemed acceptable. With a skilled criminal defense attorney, you can fight your charges for the best possible outcome.

Can I Be Charged With Public Intoxication If I Am Under 21?

It is illegal for individuals under the age of 21 to drink or purchase alcohol in Oklahoma. Those found guilty of consumption or purchase of alcohol under the legal drinking age may face a misdemeanor and a fine of up to $100 or community service of up to 20 hours. They also can face public intoxication charges for being intoxicated in a public place or drinking in a vehicle.

Does Oklahoma Have Open Container Laws?

Considering that individuals can be charged with public intoxication for drinking in a vehicle, you may wonder if open container laws also apply. If the car is in motion and an intoxicating beverage is unsealed in the vehicle's passenger area, drivers or passengers possessing an unsealed alcoholic beverage can face a misdemeanor charge and a fine of up to $500.

If the alcoholic beverage is unsealed but in the vehicle's trunk or in a compartment that neither the driver nor passengers can access while the vehicle is in motion, open container laws do not apply.

Norman Criminal Defense Attorneys

Facing criminal charges after a night out can be frustrating. A criminal conviction can create a permanent criminal record, viewable through background checks and online. Our Norman criminal defense attorneys will help you fight your charges for a fair outcome.

Are you or a loved one facing public intoxication or other alcohol-related charges? Please schedule a consultation with our skilled criminal defense team by calling (405) 266-5072 or contacting us online to learn more about how we can fight for your rights.

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