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Disorderly Intoxication under F.S. 865.011

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 where 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 underaged possession of an alcoholic beverage or possession of a fake I.D. We also represent college students at FSU and FAMU.

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 exercises that discretion in a way that is unjust.

Elements of Disorderly Intoxication in Florida

The elements of disorderly intoxication under Section 856.011, Florida Statutes, include proof beyond all reasonable doubt of the following:

  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 F.S. Section 856.011, the term “intoxication” is defined to mean when the defendant “was 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 defenses of another because of a physical altercation, then important defenses 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 can not 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 State v. Saunders, 339 So.2d 641 (Fla. 1976), 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 a private place such as a residence. The term “public place” as defined as any location where the general public has a right to be. But a front porch of a residence would not be sufficient to support a conviction. Royster v. State, 643 So. 2d 61 (Fla. 1st DCA 1994).

Every case for disorderly intoxication requires a showing that the defendant’s actions posed a danger to public safety in some way. See Jernigan v. State, 566 So. 2d 39 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990)(the prosecutor must also prove that public safety was endangered).


Related Statutory Provisions

509.143. Disorderly conduct on the premises of an establishment; detention; arrest; immunity from liability.

(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.

509.142. Conduct on premises; refusal of service.

The operator of a public lodging establishment or public food service establishment may refuse accommodations or service to any person whose conduct on the premises of the establishment displays intoxication, profanity, lewdness, or brawling; who indulges in language or conduct such as to disturb the peace or comfort of other guests; who engages in illegal or disorderly conduct; who illegally possesses or deals in controlled substances as de ned in chapter 893; or 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

If you received a notice to appear for disorderly intoxication (often called “public drunkenness”), then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Pumphrey Law. Our attorneys represent clients throughout Tallahassee, Leon County, and the surrounding counties in North Florida. Call us to discuss your case, possible penalties, and potential defenses that might apply.

If the crime involved is a misdemeanor, the officer may not ordinarily make a warrantless arrest unless the crime was committed in his or her presence. However, Florida law has created an exception for any acts of a breach of the peace or disorderly conduct as defined in § 877.03 on the premises of a licensed public lodging establishment as defined in § 509.013(4)(a). See § 509.143(2)).

Call today to discuss your case. We can begin your defense today.


This article was last updated on Friday, August 19, 2016.