A Guide to Florida's Disorderly Intoxication Laws

Is Disorderly Intoxication & Public Intoxication the Same Thing?

Disorderly intoxication is a criminal offense in the state of Florida, but the laws surrounding it can be confusing. In this guide, The Law Offices of Phillip T. Ridolfo, Jr. is sharing an overview of Florida’s disorderly intoxication laws, including definitions, punishments, and examples of potential defenses if charged.

“Disorderly intoxication” and “public intoxication” are often used interchangeably, but in the state of Florida, these two terms differ slightly. Disorderly intoxication is defined as a person who appears to be impaired by alcohol or drugs in a public place and causes a disturbance or endangers the safety of another person or property. Disturbances can range from shouting and shoving to becoming a public nuisance.

Typically, public intoxication is simply defined as a person who appears to be impaired by alcohol or drugs in a public place, with no direct mention of causing harm. This can look like swaying on your feet or an inability to voice comprehendible sentences. If not linked to a disturbance or endangering the safety of people or property, this is not a crime in Florida.

Punishment for a Disorderly Intoxication Conviction

Disorderly intoxication is a second degree misdemeanor in Florida and if convicted, you could face fines up to $500 and jail time of up to 60 days. However, if your actions while intoxicated were violent or led to damage, such as assault, battery, or burglary, you may face more severe charges.

What Is a Habitual Offender?

According to the 2018 Florida Statutes, “Any person who shall have been convicted or have forfeited collateral under the provisions of subsection (1) three times in the preceding 12 months shall be deemed a habitual offender”. Meaning, if a person has been convicted of three disorderly intoxication charges within one year, they will be listed as a habitual offender and may be given an alternative to jail time—instead, being committed to a treatment facility for no more than 60 days.

Possible Defense Options to Disorderly Intoxication Charges

An experienced defense attorney can help you fight a disorderly intoxication charge by creating a customized defense to suit your unique situation. Three types of defenses include:

  1. You were in a private place at the time of the incident: This defense is most often used when there is a grey area between public and private spaces. For example, a shared parking lot inside a gated country club could be considered a private place.
  2. Improper police handling: If the arresting officer mishandles the situation, a defense attorney might be able to get charges dropped. Types of improper handling might look like arresting a crowd of people for disorderly intoxication when not everyone is intoxicated or pulling a person out of a private place into a public place to then charge them with disorderly intoxication.
  3. You were not intoxicated at the time of the incident: While challenging, this defense is not impossible, especially if you have physical evidence, such as breathalyzer results, or testimony corroborating that you were not intoxicated.

An Experienced Defense Lawyer Is Just a Phone Call Away

Phillip T. Ridolfo, Jr. is a trusted West Palm Beach attorney with over 25 years of experience. My firm handles both misdemeanor charges as well as more severe felony charges—working tirelessly to protect the rights of my clients. From disorderly intoxication and DUI charges to drug crimes, disorderly conduct, and sex crimes, my firm is standing by to help.

Call my firm today at (561) 475-2752 or fill out this short online contact form to schedule a free consultation.


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