Public Intoxication

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Columbia Public Intoxication Defense Attorney

A person displaying disorderly conduct in public while grossly intoxicated will face a public intoxication charge. While you are allowed to be “tipsy” in public, gross intoxication is prohibited under state law. In South Carolina, you may be charged with both disorderly conduct and public intoxication. A conviction for either may result in incarceration, fines, and tarnishing your reputation.

If you have been charged with public intoxication, you need a Columbia, South Carolina attorney who can defend your rights.

What is Public Intoxication?

A person will be charged with public intoxication if there is evidence of substantial alcohol impairment, placing others at risk of harm. A public intoxication charge involves you being visibly intoxicated. This may include trouble walking, standing, being confused about your whereabouts, or slurring your speech.

If you are convicted, you may be fined $100 or imprisoned for thirty days.

Overview of Disorderly Conduct

South Carolina Code §16-17-530 defines public disorderly conduct as pertaining to any of the following situations:

A disorderly conduct charge encompasses a wide array of behaviors, including public intoxication. Besides a disorderly conduct charge, you can also be charged with public intoxication if you are clearly drunk in public.

A disorderly conduct conviction carries the same penalties as public intoxication, including a $100 fine or incarceration for thirty days. However, if you are a first-time offender, the court may place you on probation, with the requirement that you participate in a drug treatment program.

City of Columbia Ordinances

Columbia lawmakers have established regulations to reduce the instances of public intoxication. The City of Columbia, South Carolina Ordinance No.: 2012-092 prohibits employees of commercial establishments from selling alcohol to customers if it is readily apparent that they are inebriated. The ordinance also restricts the hours of sale, in an effort to prevent gross intoxication.

Collateral Consequences

If you have committed public intoxication or disorderly conduct, both offenses will appear on your criminal record. A criminal record can make living a normal life challenging, since background checks are performed regularly by landlords and employers. This can prevent you from renting an apartment, finding employment, and renewing professional licensure.


While many people believe that the charges are automatically removed after seven years, this is not the case. However, a public intoxication or disorderly conduct charge may be eligible for expungement in South Carolina. However, you must wait three years and have no criminal offenses during that time to qualify.

A judge can only grant an expungement. The state governor does not have the authority to expunge a criminal record. If the expungement is approved, then the crime is essentially erased, and your criminal record will be destroyed.

When charges are pressed for public intoxication, you need to seek counsel who is dedicated to working for you. At The Law Office of Sharpe & Leventis, we understand the damaging effects that a public intoxication charge can have on your future. If you are looking for skilled representation, do not hesitate to contact our office by phone or online.