Disorderly Intoxication

In the State of Florida, disorderly intoxication is a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable by a maximum of 60 days in jail, a $500 fine, and 6 months probation.

Disorderly intoxication arrests are common among tourists. People like to come to South Florida for the nightlife, and while wandering the sidewalks of South Beach or Las Olas, if they are obviously intoxicated and appear to be making a scene, they could be arrested and charged with disorderly intoxication.

Now, disorderly intoxication is more than just being drunk in public. The State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused person was intoxicated, and that there actions were causing a danger to the community. Cops usually try to justify their arrests by stating that "crowds were forming" and that the accused person was "walking into traffic." Unfortunately, those two things can help the State get a conviction.

Most disorderly intoxication arrests can be done through the issuance of a promise to appear (PTA), provided the accused person is in the company of friends or family who can get them home safely. If you are alone and the cops think you are too drunk to get home on your own, they will have no choice but to physically arrest you. If you are not released on recognizance (ROR'd), the initial appearance judge will likely issue a $500 bond.

If you are a first-time offender, the State will likely offer you pretrial diversion (PTD) with conditions that may include some type of alcohol awareness course. These are usually done online.

If you have a prior criminal history, the State will likely seek a withhold of adjudication followed by probation, or a conviction and jail time.

If you opt for PTD, your record can be expunged once you have completed your program.

The truth is, disorderly intoxication is a stupid charge, and one that should be fought. Cops are not trained the way attorneys are. They make snap decisions based on what's available to them at the moment of arrest. But being drunk in public, by itself, is not a crime. If that were the case, everybody on South Beach would be arrested each and every night.

As a former prosecutor, I can tell you that proving disorderly intoxication is difficult as it is based almost solely on officer observations. This, I find, is some of the weakest evidence the State can offer.

Don't simply accept a plea without first discussing the matter with a criminal defense attorney who handles disorderly intoxication cases in Miami-Dade and Broward. Call me today for an evaluation of your case.

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