Getting Legal Help for a Drunk and Disorderly Charge in Clemson, SC
A drunk and disorderly arrest in Clemson, SC could result to a 30-day imprisonment and a hefty fine payment. And yet, not everyone may fully understand the repercussions of public intoxication charges in South Carolina. Although a misdemeanor offense, this violation can leave an indelible mark on any person’s public records.
Fortunately, there are various defenses to drunk and disorderly charges in Clemson, South Carolina. As the defendant, you can always disprove intoxication or argue that the arrest did not occur in a public place. A DUI attorney can help in working out your defense.
It’s not wise for you to put your employment and school opportunities at risk due to a misdemeanor offense. For this, you will need appropriate legal assistance. To seek help for charges on public drunkenness, the timely services of a DUI lawyer is crucial.
The Characteristics of a Drunk and Disorderly Charge in Clemson, SC
A drunk and disorderly behavior, also known as public intoxication, is a misdemeanor offense in South Carolina.
Essentially, there are three elements that must be present for an action to be classified as public intoxication.
These elements are the following:
Intoxication by alcohol or other impairing substances.
Authorities typically apprehend an individual for drunken disorderly conduct due to intoxication. These intoxicating substances are usually in the form of an alcoholic drink such as beer or wine.
It is also possible for intoxicated persons to be operating a vehicle. Authorities consider this to be a clear offense in South Carolina. Police officers rely on certain tests, such as the breathalyzer, to determine intoxication in individuals.
This doesn’t mean, however, that all individuals who have consumed alcohol are likely to earn citations or get arrested. For a drunken disorderly conduct to be considered unlawful, two other elements must also be present.
Disorderly behavior in a public place.
Public intoxication is termed as such because it takes place in a public sphere. A public place is an area where anyone can freely enter and exit. An example of a public place is a bar or a restaurant in Clemson, SC. Some of the common public places where drunken disorderly conducts can happen are bars, concert and festival venues, and parks.
The term public place can be tricky, however. You may also be cited for drunk and disorderly behavior in a private area, such as in your hotel room. This is usually the case if the commotion from your room has already disturbed other hotel occupants. Your private hotel room may instead be viewed as ‘public’ since the disturbance has already reached other hotel areas.
The presence of danger or harm to others.
It is important for a drunk and disorderly arrest to be based on some potential harm or danger to others. Thus, authorities cannot arrest you just because you have consumed several bottles of beer. It is another story, however, if you have become a nuisance to others or have already harmed properties.
It is also possible for anyone arrested for disorderly conduct to be cited for open container violations. South Carolina laws and local ordinances prohibit anyone from possessing an open container of liquor. Specifically, these open containers should not be found in a moving vehicle on any public road or highway. This law applies to private vehicles and hired vehicles such as taxis in Clemson, SC. Underage individuals who are found with an open container in a vehicle may face harsher penalties.
Nonetheless, defenses to these drunken disorderly charges are possible. A committed DUI attorney will be able to examine your case and determine the best course of action. A DUI lawyer can help in invalidating the charges or in securing a lighter penalty for you.
Public Intoxication Arrests and Statistics in the U.S. and in South Carolina
Liquor law violations, including drunkenness, disorderly conduct, drunk and disorderly behavior, and DUI occur on a country-wide basis. According to the FBI, there were as many as 234,899 arrests all over the country for liquor law violations in 2016. As many as 29,073 arrests for liquor law violations involved individuals under 18. The FBI also recorded 376,433 arrests for drunkenness all over the country.
In South Carolina, a total of 90 arrests in 2016 were for underage DUI. The total number of DUI arrests reached to 15,947 for the same year. Additionally, a total of 5,014 arrests in 2016 were connected to liquor law violations. Arrests for drunkenness in South Carolina numbered to 6,956 for the year.
In 2011, authorities arrested a councilman of Folly Beach for disorderly conduct and public intoxication. The police observed a strong alcohol odor on him after he cursed the deputies on Folly Beach.
In 2018, SC authorities arrested a man who was found wandering in a parking lot with his pants half-open. He was later charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest.
Stories of these arrests indicate that anyone can fall into the mistake of public disorderly behavior due to intoxication.
If you are facing these charges in South Carolina, your best move is to consult with a criminal defense lawyer without delay.
Laws Governing Public Intoxication and Disorderly Conduct in South Carolina
Under South Carolina laws, drunk and disorderly behavior or public intoxication is treated as a misdemeanor offense.
An example of drunk and disorderly behavior is gathering in public place, being boisterous, and/or vandalizing properties. Or, it may involve using profane language, cursing at other people, or displaying lewd actions. Apprehended individuals may have to spend a maximum 30 days in jail and pay as much as $100 in fines.
South Carolina laws also prohibit the possession of an alcoholic open container in motor vehicles on any public highway. To be clear, the restriction refers to alcoholic drinks that contain 0.5% alcohol/volume. Anyone who violates the open container laws are subject to $100 in fines and 30 days of jail time. Like the drunk and disorderly violation, open container offenses are classified as misdemeanor.
Although misdemeanor offenses are less damaging than felonies, it is nevertheless a criminal record. This record can potentially affect your professional and personal endeavors in several ways.
If arrested due to public disorderly conduct, you will need the timely counsel of a committed DUI lawyer.
Choosing Your Legal Defense for a Drunk and Disorderly Charge in Clemson, SC
When hiring a DUI attorney for your drunk and disorderly case in Clemson, SC, you have to choose wisely.
Not all lawyers will have sufficient experience in drunken behavior violations or DUI infractions. This can be a problem if your drunken behavior charge is accompanied by other violations. For example, your existing charges may complicate by a DUI or an open container charge. If possible, you will need a DUI attorney who fully understands the many intricacies of a liquor law violation.
One of your options is to choose a public defender as your DUI lawyer. Those who can’t afford private lawyers will most likely go for a public defender. Unfortunately, not all public defenders will be able to commit to your case in South Carolina. Since public attorneys take numerous caseloads simultaneously, you may not be able to demand exclusive attention from your lawyer. Furthermore, they may not always be around to accompany you during court hearings and settlement meetings.
When hiring a DUI lawyer, commitment is important. Your attorney must be able to study your case, craft a good defense and procure solid, permissible evidence. In addition to time and commitment, your DUI attorney should also be familiar with state laws and local ordinances. Some violations will merit different penalties or sentences across different states. In some states, for example, public disorderly conduct may not necessarily be a misdemeanor. Your legal counsel for a drunk and disorderly charge should be aware of this.
If the violation and arrest took place in Clemson, South Carolina, it is necessary to consider both state rules and local laws. It is also worth noting how laws and statutes change or update after a few years. If possible, choose a DUI lawyer who has the background, skill, and experience in handling South Carolina defense cases.
Possible Defenses to Intoxicated and Public Disorderly Conduct Charges
When charged with public drunkenness, will you still have a chance for a good defense? Or will your DUI lawyer have no other choice but to make you plead guilty?
The truth is that there many defenses to a drunk and disorderly charge.
Some defenses outlined below:
Any arresting officer needs to follow proper protocol and due process at all times. There may be cases, though, where the arresting officers fail to show fairness. Were you, for example, informed of your rights during the arrest? Was there a just cause for your arrest? Were you, in any way, subjected to undue ridicule or embarrassment during your arrest? Your lawyer can look into these possible issues prior to working on your defense.
Arrest committed in a non-public place
Another vital element in these charges is that the disorderly behavior must have taken place in a public location. You can thus argue that your arrest took place in your home, which is on private property. Perhaps, the police officer forced you to walk outside of your home just to arrest you. It is important to remember that the term ‘public place’ can easily be debatable. A hotel restaurant can be a public area, but your own hotel room may not necessarily be so. A committed criminal defense lawyer can look into these matters to see whether it may be useful as defense.
Deny accusations of disorderly conduct
Another possible defense is for you to argue that, while intoxicated, you have not been causing any public disturbance. If there are witnesses to the occasion, then they may testify. If someone else has accused you of vandalizing properties, s/he will need to prove it. Was there a photo or video that can serve as evidence? On the other hand, you can also prove that someone else was responsible for the destroyed properties. Mistaken identities are, after all, common. Someone cannot force you to pay for their disorderly behavior.
Sobriety test defenses
If a police offer has enough reason to suspect intoxication, s/he may do a sobriety test. Yet, sobriety tests are not necessarily fail-proof. Just because your eyes jerk in a certain manner doesn’t necessarily mean you are drunk. Or, if you walk a certain way in a Walk and Turn test, there is a chance of intoxication. Even the breathalyzer machine can be prone to malfunction and errors.
If the arresting authorities are basing your arrest simply on intoxication alone, you may have a strong defense ahead. For this violation to be legitimate, it must also have two other important elements. These are the public location of the offense/arrest and the disorderly behavior portrayed.
If your drunken disorderly activities are together with other infractions, such as a DUI, things can get more complicated. Some individuals do get arrested for a host of violations, such as possession of fake ID and underage drinking.
If this is your own case, your lawyer will have to prepare for multiple defenses against multiple charges.
To Work with a DUI Lawyer on Your Drunk and Disorderly Case, Get in Touch with the Bateman Firm Today
A single night of fun and drunkenness can leave a lasting effect on your public and personal life. A public and disorderly intoxicated behavior can easily lead to a misdemeanor offense in Clemson, SC.
If South Carolina authorities have arrested you for drunk and disorderly behavior, you should not waste time. Pleading guilty automatically is also not advisable. As much as possible, you need to seek proper legal representation first. A DUI attorney can help you deal with these misdemeanor offenses appropriately. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your case, you should not take a misdemeanor charge lightly. Consult with a DUI lawyer right away. To speak to a DUI attorney for your case in South Carolina, get in touch with the Bateman Firm today.