A person can be charged with a crime if he is intoxicated in public in Virginia. Va. Code §18.2-388 makes it a misdemeanor to be intoxicated in public. Someone can be convicted of a Virginia public intoxication charge under Va. Code §18.2-388 whether he is intoxicated from alcohol or drugs. Many local towns, cities and counties have their own versions of the Virginia public intoxication charge.
Proof of Virginia Public Intoxication Charge
To be convicted of a Virginia Public Intoxication charge under Va. Code §18.2-388, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the offender was both intoxicated and in public.
Intoxicated: Va. Code §4.1-100 states that to be intoxicated in Virginia, a person must have consumed enough alcohol to observably affect his manner, disposition, speech, muscular movement, general appearance or behavior. Proof of intoxication requires that the alcohol or drug affected the offender’s behavior, not his appearance. Appearing intoxicated by having glassy, bloodshot eyes or smelling like alcohol is not enough to convict someone of a Virginia public intoxication charge.
Public: For purposes of a Virginia public intoxication charge, “public” generally means any place visible to the public. This means that someone can be convicted of a Virginia public intoxication charge even if he was on his own property (such as his porch or yard).
Intoxication from Drugs or Alcohol
Va. Code §18.2-388 specifically states that an offender can be convicted of a Virginia public intoxication charge if he is intoxicated from either alcohol or drugs.
Penalties for a Virginia Public Intoxication Charge
A Virginia public intoxication charge can be pre-paid without going to court. However, paying the fine is an admission of guilt. The person will be convicted of the crime of being intoxicated in public in Virginia. This conviction will remain on the offender’s criminal record permanently and cannot be expunged.