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How Exactly Does Florida's Disorderly Intoxication Law Work?

Even though we are only few days into 2017, an arrest or charge from New Year’s Eve can easily keep you from starting the New Year on the right foot. Every January, tons of people start the New Year on this unfortunate note. Common charges that come from New Year’s Eve parties include:

Most of those you’ve probably heard of before, but below we’re going to delve into the lesser-known (but still common) offense of disorderly intoxication.What does disorderly intoxication look like? How serious are these charges? A recent example from Webster can give us an idea of what can happen when you are charged with disorderly intoxication.

Noisy Neighbor Get More Than She Bargained For

When Carol Ann Choppy’s neighbors found her rolling around their yard in the middle of the night, they decided to call the police. Officers arrived at the scene and immediately noticed that Choppy smelled of alcohol.They attempted to ask her how much alcohol she had consumed, but her response was to pound on her neighbor’s door and try to enter the home. She couldn’t even speak full sentences.Ultimately, Choppy was charged with disorderly intoxication and was held in Sumter County Jail on $300 bail.Now, Choppy’s antics might seem familiar – even tame – for those who have experienced a wild New Year’s Eve celebration, a big sports victory, or even just a crazy party.Consider this, though. The incident described above did not happen as a result of New Year’s Eve. It actually occurred a few weeks earlier, on December 15. Worse, this was the fourth time that Choppy has been arrested for disorderly intoxication.

What Is Disorderly Intoxication?

What Is Disorderly Intoxication

You don’t have to go for a roll on your neighbor’s lawn or try to break down their door to get charged with disorderly intoxication in the Sunshine State. In fact, many situations involving public intoxication can lead to these charges.According to Florida law, “No person in the state shall be intoxicated and endanger the safety of another person or property, and no person in the state shall be intoxicated or drink any alcoholic beverage in a public place or in or upon any public conveyance and cause a public disturbance.”This means that even if you are just visibly drunk, you could potentially face disorderly intoxication charges. So if you reach the point in your night where it seems like a good idea to pop open a beer while walking down the street, or find yourself stumbling into the next bar, it may be time to call it quits. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a surprising amount of trouble when you wake up the next morning.How much trouble? Disorderly intoxication is a second degree misdemeanor in Florida. If you are convicted, you may face up to 60 days in jail and up to $500 in fines.

What about Habitual Offenders?

While Florida law does not increase disorderly intoxication to felony charges for a second or third incident, becoming a habitual offender will bring about additional consequences.“Habitual offenders” are defined as those who have been convicted of disorderly intoxication three times in one year. At this point, peace officers or a judge may give the offender an alternative to jail or fines.Florida law says that once an individual is a habitual offender, they “may be committed by the court to an appropriate treatment resource for a period of not more than 60 days. Any peace officer, in lieu of incarcerating an intoxicated person…may take or send the intoxicated person to her or his home or to a public or private health facility, and the law enforcement officer may take reasonable measures to ascertain the commercial transportation used for such purposes is paid for by such person in advance.”While second degree misdemeanors are not the most serious crimes in Florida, they can quickly add up to more penalties. Defending against each charge and count against you is extremely important for securing a future with high-paying job options, access to voting and government benefits, and a solid reputation in your community.

Additional and Related Charges

In the incident mentioned above, Choppy did not cause physical harm or threaten her neighbor or the police officers arresting her. However, she has faced assault and aggravated battery charges in the past. If your actions while drunk turned violent, you may face additional charges, including disorderly conduct.

West Palm Beach Disorderly Intoxication Lawyer

Addressing the charges against you quickly will reduce your chance at facing additional charges by the time you arrive in court or submit to plea negotiations.Even if this charge was a mistake of drinking too much on New Year’s Eve, it is important to fight the charges against you and keep your record clean in 2017 and beyond. Talk to a Florida defense lawyer today about your defense options, what comes next, and how hiring a lawyer can help you get your charges reduced or dropped. About the Author:Attorney David W. Olson is the founder of the Law Offices of David W. Olson in West Palm Beach. He has been practicing criminal law and successfully representing clients throughout the State of Florida for over 30 years. Throughout his legal career, Mr. Olson has been honored numerous times for both his dedication and excellence in criminal law. He proudly holds the Martindale-Hubbell AV Rating, as well as being recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013), in the Nation’s Top One Percent of attorneys (2015), and as a 10 Best Member of the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys (2015). He has even received commendations from members of congress and other public officials for the fantastic work that he's done. Mr. Olson graduated from the University of Florida’s Fredric G. Levin College of Law in 1981 and has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1983.

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