Public Intoxication Laws in Texas | What to Know

To learn more about the consequences of public intoxication in Texas, continue reading and give our skilled Houston criminal defense attorneys a call today.

What is public intoxication?

For legal reasons, Texas laws do not use the term “drunk.” Rather, they use intoxication to refer to a state of inebriation. According to Chapter 49 of the Texas Penal Code, intoxication is the state of:

  • Having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater


  • Not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties caused by the use of alcohol, drugs, or the combination of these substances

It is critical to be able to make this distinction. Just because a person does not have a 0.08 BAC does not absolve them from a public intoxication arrest. In the event that a person is stumbling, slurring their speech, and acting aggressively, a police officer may determine that that person is intoxicated and can put them under arrest.

To be arrested and charged with public intoxication, a person must be in a public place and be intoxicated to the extent that they are a danger to themselves or others.

According to the law, a bar is deemed a public place. Almost any location other than a private residence may be regarded as a public place.

What are the consequences of public intoxication?

A conviction for public intoxication in Texas is a Class C misdemeanor. This crime can be penalized by:

  • A fine of $500
  • Potential mandatory alcohol education classes
  • A possible investigation by Child Protective Services if the convicted person is around their children when arrested

What are possible legal defenses?

With the right type of legal defense, it is possible to fight public intoxication in court. For example, it is a valid legal defense to claim that the alcohol or drugs that caused the intoxication were dispensed by a medical professional for treatment purposes in a clinical setting.

A defense lawyer may try to claim that their client did not meet the legal definition of intoxication, and they may be able to avoid a conviction. If a blood alcohol test shows that the arrested individual had a blood alcohol concentration that was below the legal limit of 0.08, they may be able to avoid a conviction. Furthermore, a lawyer could use witness statements and video footage to argue that the defendant was not a danger to themselves or others. If this kind of evidence can establish that the defendant was not behaving dangerously as claimed by the arresting officer, the charges may be dropped altogether.

By retaining the services of a defense attorney, you can feel comfortable knowing you are choosing the best strategy after an arrest for public intoxication in Texas. With enough evidence and strong arguments, the defense attorney may be able to help their client avoid a conviction or plead to a lower offense to evade any penalties.


If you have sustained a serious injury or are facing criminal charges, contact the Gonzalez Law Group today to learn more about how we can help you through every step of the legal process ahead.