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Disorderly Intoxication under F.S. 865.011

Disorderly Intoxication

The crime of disorderly intoxication charged under Section 856.011, Florida Statutes, is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor. Florida Statute Section 865.011 provides:

“No person in the State [of Florida] 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 any public conveyance and cause a public disturbance.”

Disorderly intoxication is often called “public drunkenness” in other states. Related charges include other misdemeanors that often involve alcohol such as underage possession of alcohol, resisting arrest either with or without violence, DUI, and possession of a fake I.D.

Finding an Attorney for Disorderly Intoxication in Tallahassee

Public intoxication is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor. A conviction for public intoxication can have serious consequences for job applications, college admissions, and professional licensing.

If you received a “notice to appear” in court or were formally arrested for disorderly intoxication in Tallahassee or the surrounding areas in Leon County, FL, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Pumphrey Law.

Our attorneys are experienced in fighting these types of charges and related offenses for underage possession of an alcoholic beverage or possession of a fake I.D. We also represent college students at FSU and FAMU. Click here to learn more about Fake I.D. Florida Law.

The criteria to arrest someone for Disorderly Conduct (sometimes called “Public Intoxication”) is extremely subjective. Police officers have tremendous discretion in these cases and sometimes they exercise that discretion in a way that is unjust.

Elements of Disorderly Intoxication in Florida

In order to prove the crime of disorderly intoxication, the following elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. the person accused was intoxicated while endangering the safety of persons or property; or
  2. the person accused was intoxicated or drank an alcoholic beverage in a public place while causing a public disturbance.

One of the best ways to understand the charge of disorderly conduct is to read the standard jury instructions for the offense which can be found at Fla. Std. Jury Instr (Crim.) 29.1.

Definitions for “Intoxication” Under the Disorderly Statute

Under Section 856.011, Florida Statutes, the term “intoxication” is defined as a defendant being “so affected by the alcoholic beverage as to have lost or been deprived of the normal control of either his/her body or his/her mental faculties or both.” The standard jury instructions also equate the term “intoxication” with the term “drunk.”

A showing that the defendant consumed alcohol is not enough, by itself, to prove disorderly intoxication under Florida law.

Criminal Penalties for Public Intoxication

The crime of “disorderly intoxication” is charged as a second-degree misdemeanor which carries penalties of up to sixty (60) days in jail or six (6) months probation and/or a $500 fine.

The best way to avoid these criminal penalties is to get the prosecutor to drop the charges or to get the court to dismiss the case.

Defenses to the Crime of Disorderly Intoxication

Defenses to disorderly intoxication can include a showing that the person:

  1. was not drunk or intoxicated;
  2. did not endanger public safety;
  3. did not commit the act in a public place; or
  4. did not create a “public disturbance.”

Many of these cases also involve to people fighting outside a bar. If the fight involved self-defense or defense of another because of a physical altercation, then important defenses or immunities may apply.

Additionally, many of these cases occurred because a person made inappropriate or rude comments in public. If so, important defenses under the First Amendment might apply. A person cannot be deprived of free speech rights under the First Amendment because the person was consumed alcohol or was intoxicated by alcoholic beverages.

As explained in Florida Supreme Court decision State v. Saunders, a conviction for disorderly intoxication cannot stand where the accused’s conduct consists of mere statements or words, unless the statements or words qualify as “fighting words.”

To be convicted of disorderly conduct, the acts must have occurred in a public place and not in private, like in a residence. The term “public place” as defined as any location where the general public has a right to be. Even the front porch of a residence would not be sufficient to support a conviction. Additionally, every case for disorderly intoxication requires a showing that the defendant’s actions posed a danger to public safety in some way.

Related Statutory Provisions

Disorderly Conduct under Florida Statute 877.03

 Disorderly conduct is a crime that involves offensive or disruptive public activity. Disorderly conduct laws allow police officers to arrest individuals who engaged in disruptive or offensive behavior to the extent that the individual interfered with other people’s enjoyment of the public area.

Disorderly Conduct in Florida

Under Florida Statute Section 877.03, the crime of Disorderly Conduct is committed when:

  • A person commits acts that corrupt the public morals, outrages the sense of public decency, or affect the peace and quiet of persons who may witness them; or
  • engages in brawling, fighting, or other conduct that constitutes a breach of the peace.

Penalties for Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly Conduct is a misdemeanor of the second-degree and is punishable as follows:

  • Up to 60 days in jail.
  • Up to 6 months of probation.
  • Up to $500 in fines.

Acts That May Be Disorderly Conduct

  • Public intoxication
  • Brawling or fighting
  • Loitering
  • Obstructing traffic
  • Use of obscene or abusive language
  • Loud or unreasonable noise

Specific Examples of Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly Conduct on the Premises of an Establishment under Florida Statute 509.143

Disorderly Conduct on the Premises of an Establishment, Florida Statute Section 509.143, essentially states that an operator may take an individual into custody and detain that person in a reasonable manner and for a reasonable time if the operator has probable cause to believe that the person was engaging in disorderly conduct in violation of Florida Statute Section 877.03. In more detail, the statute provides that:

  1. An operator may take a person into custody and detain that person in a reasonable manner and for a reasonable time if the operator has probable cause to believe that the person was engaging in disorderly conduct in violation of § 877.03 on the premises of the licensed establishment and that such conduct was creating a threat to the life or safety of the person or others. The operator shall call a law enforcement officer to the scene immediately after detaining a person under this subsection.
  2. A law enforcement officer may arrest, either on or off the premises of the licensed establishment and without a warrant, any person the officer has probable cause to believe violated § 877.03 on the premises of a licensed establishment and, in the course of such violation, created a threat to the life or safety of the person or others.
  3. An operator or a law enforcement officer who detains a person under subsection (1) or makes an arrest under subsection (2) is not civilly or criminally liable for false arrest, false imprisonment, or unlawful detention on the basis of any action taken in compliance with subsection (1) or subsection (2).
  4. A person who resists the reasonable efforts of an operator or a law enforcement officer to detain or arrest that person in accordance with this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in § 775.082 or § 775.083, unless the person did not know or did not have reason to know that the person seeking to make such detention or arrest was the operator of the establishment or a law enforcement officer.

Conduct on Premises and Refusal of Service Under Florida Statute 509.142

Under Florida Statute 509.142, the operator of a public lodging establishment or public food service establishment may refuse accommodations or service to any person:

  1. whose conduct on the premises of the establishment displays intoxication, profanity, lewdness, or brawling;
  2. who indulges in language or conduct such as to disturb the peace or comfort of other guests;
  3. who engages in illegal or disorderly conduct; who illegally possesses or deals in controlled substances as defined in Chapter 893; or
  4. whose conduct constitutes a nuisance.

Such refusal may not be based upon race, creed, color, sex, physical disability, or national origin.

 Additional Resources

  • 856.011 Disorderly Intoxication
    Visit the website of the Florida Senate to learn more about disorderly intoxication and the penalties for a third conviction within 12 months which requires up to 60 days in treatment after a designation as a habitual offender. Also, find information about provisions for taking an intoxicated person to their home or a public or private health facility. Also find related charges under Title XLVI and Chapter 856 for drunkenness, open house parties, loitering, and prowling.

Attorney in Tallahassee for Disorderly Intoxication or Conduct

A disorderly intoxication or conduct arrest charge may result in a permanent criminal record. If you or a loved one has been charged with this crime, it is important to consult with an experienced Tallahassee Criminal Defense Attorney to explore your options. Don Pumphrey and the members of the legal team at Pumphrey Law Firm have years of experience and will fight to protect your legal rights and interests. Call a defense attorney today at (850) 681-7777 or send an online message to discuss your options during an open and free consultation with an attorney in our legal team.


This article was last updated on July 26, 2021.

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