Drunk in Public: California Penal Code 647(f)

Pedestrian Dangerous to Themselves or Others

Legal problems relating to alcohol are not limited to drunk driving, DUI, or DWI arrests. Even a pedestrian can run afoul of the law due to excessive alcohol consumption. This offense is commonly known as being “drunk in public.” The criminal charge being of “drunk in public” actually requires more than a person being drunk and being in public: the legal standard usually requires that a person be so drunk as to be a danger to themselves or others before the law will intervene.

Interfering or Obstructing the Free Use of Any Street, Sidewalk, or Public Way

California’a drunk in public law is typical of those around the country. California Penal Code Section 647 (f) provides that it is illegal to be in any public place under the influence of intoxicating liquor (or combination of liquor and drugs), in such a condition that he or she is unable to exercise care for his or her own safety or the safety of others, or by reason of his or her being under the influence of intoxicating liquor (or drugs), interferes with or obstructs or prevents the free use of any street, sidewalk, or other public way.

“Civil Protective Custody”

If the offending party is under the influence of alcohol only, as compared to being under the influence of drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs, the officer may seek to place the arrestee in “civil protective custody” for 72-hours. This time will be used to evaluate the “inebriate” and will be a bar to further prosecution.

California’s laws relating to people who are accused of being drunk in public are fairly typical of laws around the country. However, if you or someone you care about is charged with any alcohol or drug related offense, it is critically important that you contact the Law Offices of David S. Chesley immediately.