Public Intoxication

Under Utah law, public intoxication often involves an allegation that a person unreasonably disturbed other people while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance to a degree that endangered others.

If you were charged with the crime of public intoxication under Utah Code § 76-9-701, then find out more about the best way to fight the criminal accusation. Public intoxication is charged as a class C misdemeanor under Utah law. For a person under the age of 21, the charge of "public intoxication" can lead to a driver's license suspension. 

Attorneys for Public Intoxication in Salt Lake City, Utah

If you were charged with public intoxication in Salt Lake City, Utah, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your case.

We represent adults and young people under the age of 21 for this offense. Many of our clients are young people who also face charges for being a minor in possession of alcohol or other alcohol abuse charges.

Whether you are an adult, juvenile, or young adult under 21 years old, we can help you understand the criminal offense of being intoxicated in public, the possible penalties, and important defenses to fight the charges. Call (801) 532-5297 today to discuss your case. 


Elements of Public Intoxication in Utah

Before a person can be convicted of public intoxication at trial, the elements of public intoxication must be proven at trial beyond a reasonable doubt. The elements include:

  1. The defendant while in a public place OR in a private place where she unreasonably disturbed other persons;
  2. Was under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or any substance having the property of releasing toxic vapors;
  3. To such a degree that the defendant may have endangered himself or herself or another person. 

Physical Manifestations of Alcohol Consumption in Utah

The physical manifestations of alcoholic consumption, such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, and a smell of alcohol on the breath are not sufficient to constitute public intoxication. Being intoxicated in public does not establish all the elements of the offense of public intoxication. Rather, the prosecution must demonstrate proof of that the defendant posed a potential danger either to himself or herself or to others. 

To prove that the defendant may have endangered himself or herself or another, the prosecution must prove to you, beyond a reasonable doubt, that there was a reasonable likelihood of endangerment or harm based on the particular circumstances. If the evidence shows only a speculative possibility of harm, then the defendant is not guilty of Public Intoxication.

Furthermore, in order for the endangerment requirement to have any meaning, there must be a reasonable likelihood of endangerment based on the particular circumstances, rather than a speculative possibility of endangerment. 


Penalties for Public Intoxication in Utah

In Utah, if an adult is convicted of the crime of "public intoxication," the crime is classified as a class C misdemeanor. If a minor is found by a court to have violated this section and the violation is the minor's first violation of this section, the court may:

  1. order the minor to complete a screening as defined in Section 41-6a-501;
  2. order the minor to complete an assessment as defined in Section 41-6a-501 if the screening indicates an assessment to be appropriate; and
  3. order the minor to complete an educational series as defined in Section 41-6a-501 or substance abuse treatment as indicated by an assessment.

For a second or subsequent offense of public intoxication, a minor is subject to the following minimum mandatory statutory penalties:

  1. order the minor to complete a screening as defined in Section 41-6a-501;
  2. order the minor to complete an assessment as defined in Section 41-6a-501 if the screening indicates an assessment to be appropriate; and
  3. order the minor to complete an educational series as defined in Section 41-6a-501 or substance abuse treatment as indicated by an assessment.

For a young person who is at at least 18 years old, but younger than 21 years old, a conviction for public intoxication comes with a driver’s license suspension under Section 53-3-219. Section 53-3-219, for the suspension of a minor’s driving privileges, provides: 

  1. The division shall immediately suspend all driving privileges of any person upon receipt of an order suspending driving privileges under Section Subsection 76-9-701(1) for public intoxication. 
  2. Upon receipt of the first order suspending a person's driving privileges, the division shall:
    • impose a suspension for a period of one year;
    • if the person has not been issued an operator license, deny the person's application for a license or learner's permit for a period of one year; or
    • if the person is under the age of eligibility for a driver license, deny the person's application for a license or learner's permit beginning on the date of conviction and continuing for one year beginning on the date of eligibility for a driver license.

Upon receipt of the first order suspending a person's driving privileges, the division shall reduce the suspension period if ordered by the court. For a second or subsequent order suspending a person's driving privileges, the division shall:

  1. impose a suspension for a period of two years;
  2. if the person has not been issued an operator license or is under the age of eligibility for a driver license, deny the person's application for a license or learner's permit for a period of two years; or
  3. if the person is under the age of eligibility for a driver license, deny the person's application for a license or learner's permit beginning on the date of conviction and continuing for two years beginning on the date of eligibility for a driver license.

Upon receipt of the second or subsequent order suspending a person's driving privileges, the division shall reduce the suspension period if ordered by the court.  For a first offense, the suspension can be reduced or shorted by the court if: 

  1. the violation is the minor's first violation of this section; and
  2. the minor completes an educational series as defined in Section 41-6a-501; or
  3. the minor demonstrates substantial progress in substance abuse treatment.

For a second or subsequent offense, the suspension can be reduced or shorted by the court if: 

  1. the minor has completed an educational series as defined in Section 41-6a-501 or demonstrated substantial progress in substance abuse treatment; and
  2. the person is 18 years of age or older and provides a sworn statement to the court that the person has not unlawfully consumed alcohol or drugs for at least a one-year consecutive period during the suspension period imposed under Subsection (4)(a); or
  3. the person is under 18 years of age and has the person's parent or legal guardian provide an affidavit or sworn statement to the court certifying that to the parent or legal guardian's knowledge the person has not unlawfully consumed alcohol or drugs for at least a one-year consecutive period during the suspension period imposed under Subsection (4)(a).

When a person who is at least 13 years old, but younger than 18 years old, is found by a court to have committed the offense of public intoxication, the provisions regarding suspension of the driver's license under Section 78A-6-606 apply to the violation.


Finding an Attorney for Intoxication in Public Crimes in Utah

If you were charged with being intoxicated in public under Utah Code § 76-9-701, then contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys in Salt Lake City, Utah, at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP. We represent clients for crimes related to alcohol and drug abuse crimes throughout Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County and the surrounding areas.

We can help you fight this class C misdemeanor so that you can avoid a criminal record and the collateral consequences that go along with it.