Public Intoxication?
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Since: Jan 07

Kingsport, TN

#1 Jan 27, 2007
I've only lived here for a year, and I've got to ask this question. All of the local newspapers report it when a person is arrested for " public intoxication".

I am not referring to "driving under the influence", so I assume these people are either sitting or standing in public.

I am also not referring to folks who are arrested for assault or burglary. The sole charge next to their name and address is only "public intoxication".

Can somebody tell me where these people are being arrested? There aren't any bars in Rogersville, except the VFW ( I hope this isn't a city crackdown on our veterans who want to safely stroll home after tossing down a few cold beers), so I'm trying to figure out where this is happening.

Is it against the law to drink on your front porch here? If so, this could help explain it.

I'd be interested in hearing about how some of the arrests happened. I'm sure it will make for entertaining reading. Please no names. I don't want to be a mudsling.

On another note, the small town that I was raised in, had a drunk policy. If you weren't driving a car, or causing trouble, the police would put you in their car and drive you home. No arrests were made. If you were stupid enough to resist being taken home, then you were arrested and spent the night in jail. There were several bars in town, but very little crime. The police force was respected and appreciated.
Curmudgeon

AOL

#2 Jan 27, 2007
Here's the legal definition from Tennessee Code Annotated.

39-17-310. Public intoxication.

(a) A person commits the offense of public intoxication who appears in a public place under the influence of a controlled substance or any other intoxicating substance to the degree that:(1) The offender may be endangered; (2) There is endangerment to other persons or property; or (3) The offender unreasonably annoys people in the vicinity.(b) A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

Mark DeWitte

Kingsport, TN

#3 Jan 27, 2007
I would think that if you have a carload of folks riding around drinking, the driver can be charged with DUI, while the passengers may be subject to the law against public intoxication. Plus, with all the "gathering spots" in town like the Big Lots parking lot, I'm sure there are some charges placed in those areas as well.
Hungry

Kingsport, TN

#4 Jan 28, 2007
I've never been to the VFW tho we are retired military. The only people I've heard mentioning being there have nothing to do with being a veteran. As for the public intoxication I think Mark,s reply is probably the best answer to that question.
Angie

Lawrenceburg, TN

#5 Jan 28, 2007
Davey, Mark is right; however this law is also put into use whenever personal safety is an issue -particularly in the County. For example, a complaint is lodged or an inebriated person is wandering along the side of the road (it happens more often than you'd think.) These people are typically too far gone to (1) see the logic in going home to sleep it off (2) cannot get there safely or (3) don't remember how to get there. Thanks to our over regulated society, law Enforcement has to charge them with something in order to hold them. I'm not sure the "drunk policy" would be legal these days - certainly not advisable as this would create 101 new liability issues for officer and departments.

As to your initial question, PI laws would apply to front porch drinking only under the following conditions (1) you are drinking with a friend, there is a loud/physical confrontation and the neighbors call the police or (2) due to amount of Budweiser consumed, you suddenly decide it's a good idea to wander away from the porch and serenade your neighbor, moon or flag down oncoming traffic, collect your mail from the box naked.

Otherwise, front porch drinking is tolerated in this area. Among some select groups, it is considered an official sport. In fact, I have some kinfolk who I believe will eventually start a league or an association of professional front porch drinkers. So, you may want to start training now - wear a jacket.
Jail Bird

Kingsport, TN

#8 Dec 17, 2007
Just a week ago I was at a Christmas Party. I had too much to drink my husband drove us home. We were talking and all of a sudden saw blue lights behind us. When he came up to the window he told us that we were pulled over because my husband had slightly hit the yellow line in the road. The officer arressted him for DUI even though he had only drink three beers in a total of 7 hours from 6:30 to 1:00 a.m. I was still in the car the officer came up to the window asked if I had been drinking I told him Yes I had. But, I thought I was not driving so I would not be in trouble. He asked me to step out of the car when I asked Why? He told me not to get smart with him. I did what I was asked and was immediately hand cuffed and arrested for PI. I begged that he allowed me to call a taxi to come and pick me up. We were in Knoxville so it would not have been a problem. The officer was rude to both my husband and myself. My husband and I spent 13 hours in jail we were not released until 3 p.m. the next day with a 1,000 bond total for the both of us. We have talked to attorneys about our case and they are confident we will not be convicted of any charges but their fee is 3500.00 on up to 12,000 dollars. Our car was impounded the cost was 125.00 dollars they also said that we would have to pay court cost of 100.00 each.
My advice to everyone do not drink in public. Do it on your own front porch!!!
We also have a friend that was arrested last year and his blood work showed he was had a level of .03
Officers can only assume you are drunk and than you have to prove to the courts otherwise here in the good ol state of Tennessee.
PS Jail is not a good place to be they don't have water to drink no soap to wash your hands and only a bench to sit on while you wait to be processed. The officers in Knoxville jail are not pleasant either.
Waldo

United States

#9 Dec 17, 2007
If jail was fun the would call it something else. As for the officers they are running a corrections institute not a country bed and breakfast. Good luck in court.

“Commit Acts of Literacy”

Since: Dec 07

Rogersville, TN

#10 Dec 17, 2007
It doesn't have to be fun, nor pleasant, but it should be at least conscious of hygiene and have water. Then again, it might not be well-funded. Officers generally have seen a lot of things in their time, so they make it a point to not be pleasant.

It sounds like you had a tough time, Jail Bird. That sounds really expensive. It's a good advice for anyone; public drinking is usually a bad idea all around.

Angie, lol! I'll have another year and 4 months before I'm legal to join the front porchers association.

Curmudgeon and Mark had some good answers. I started wondering myself when you, Davey, brought up the topic. Learned a lot from this topic.
just a thought

Kingsport, TN

#11 Dec 18, 2007
I'm not sure about Rogersville, but I know that in a small town in North Carolina if you are riding a cow and think it's a horse they put you in jail.
Waldo

United States

#12 Dec 18, 2007
I seen that on The Andy Griffith Show, it was Otis. The wonders of alcohol, building courage and helping white people dance.
Local

AOL

#13 Dec 19, 2007
I used to want to be in law enforcement when I was younger, 1970's thru 80's but I got to know several officers who had double standards,committing DUI and then enforcing it on someone else,and even a few who used marijuana.I still feel that it is a respectable vocation if the office only "enforces the law" and never tries to "be the law" it only take a rotten apple to taint the rest of the basket.
To Jail Bird

Knoxville, TN

#14 Dec 20, 2007
Assuming that your story is completely truthful, you and your husband will still have a problem getting the charges dismissed against you, Jailbird. As well, there are other things to consider. If your husband refused a breathalizer, then he automatically broke the law of implied consent, which makes him guilty. As soon as you stepped out of the vehicle, you also became intoxicated in public. Had you have stated that you preferred not to get out of the vehicle, then you would have been much safer. However, if you were aggitated and being loud and hostile, they could have required that you get out of the car. Long story short, in the court of law, it is your word against the officer's. Under usual circumstances, your husband would have been given physical sobriety tests, and after taken to jail, he would have either had to blown or given blood. That would have proven his guilt or innocense. Unless, Knoxville's laws are completely different than the rest of the country, there is very little likelihood that either of you can get out of these charges.
Just FYI

Athens, TN

#15 Dec 27, 2007
Here is the legal definition of Public intoxication:

Tennessee law defines public intoxication as follows:
A person commits the offense of public intoxication who appears in a public place under the influence of a controlled substance or any other intoxicating substance to the degree that:
(1) The offender may be endangered;
(2) There is endangerment to other persons or property; or
(3) The offender unreasonably annoys people in the vicinity.
Tenn. Code Ann. � 39-17-310(a)(West 2002).

Doesn't sound to me like she did any of these things. If she had said she didn't want to get out of the car then they would have got her for resisting arrest. This is a no win situation. Your guilty until you can prove yourself innocent and that is impossible against an officer. My son just went thru the similar situation only he had drank 2 beers with dinner at 3:30 in the afternoon and the driver had 2. They were stopped and the driver asked to get out. Once they had him arrested they asked my son to get out and immediately arrested him for PI. Not test, no questions, just go to jail. Even the bail bondsman said this was crazy and couldn't believe they had arrested him. He in no way broke any of the laws stated above, but it will cost more to prove that in court than just to plead and move on.
Waldo

Columbia, TN

#16 Dec 27, 2007
Of course the bondsman agreed with him, he just made some easy money off of him. Pay me and I'll agree with you too.
Nobody

United States

#17 Dec 27, 2007
To Jail Bird wrote:
As soon as you stepped out of the vehicle, you also became intoxicated in public. Had you have stated that you preferred not to get out of the vehicle, then you would have been much safer. However, if you were aggitated and being loud and hostile, they could have required that you get out of the car.
You are required to get out of the vehicle when asked, just the same as the driver. Think about it like this. If the driver is arrested, what is an officer supposed to do, just leave you sitting in the car. Possibly while the car is being towed or just left sitting on the roadside. This is obviously not going to happen. If you refuse to get out then you are basically resisting arrest.
BattleAngel1977

Union City, TN

#18 Jan 2, 2008
Jail Bird wrote:
Just a week ago I was at a Christmas Party. I had too much to drink my husband drove us home. We were talking and all of a sudden saw blue lights behind us. When he came up to the window he told us that we were pulled over because my husband had slightly hit the yellow line in the road. The officer arressted him for DUI even though he had only drink three beers in a total of 7 hours from 6:30 to 1:00 a.m. I was still in the car the officer came up to the window asked if I had been drinking I told him Yes I had. But, I thought I was not driving so I would not be in trouble. He asked me to step out of the car when I asked Why? He told me not to get smart with him. I did what I was asked and was immediately hand cuffed and arrested for PI. I begged that he allowed me to call a taxi to come and pick me up. We were in Knoxville so it would not have been a problem. The officer was rude to both my husband and myself. My husband and I spent 13 hours in jail we were not released until 3 p.m. the next day with a 1,000 bond total for the both of us. We have talked to attorneys about our case and they are confident we will not be convicted of any charges but their fee is 3500.00 on up to 12,000 dollars. Our car was impounded the cost was 125.00 dollars they also said that we would have to pay court cost of 100.00 each.
My advice to everyone do not drink in public. Do it on your own front porch!!!
We also have a friend that was arrested last year and his blood work showed he was had a level of .03
Officers can only assume you are drunk and than you have to prove to the courts otherwise here in the good ol state of Tennessee.
PS Jail is not a good place to be they don't have water to drink no soap to wash your hands and only a bench to sit on while you wait to be processed. The officers in Knoxville jail are not pleasant either.
You didn't resist the officer or commit any kind of public spectacle, or annoyed anybody. I don't understand why they charged you with public intoxication. You were only the passenger. I don't understand why they wouldn't just let you take a taxi home after they took you to the station just to make sure you wouldn't get behind the wheel.
Maybeshy

Lancaster, WI

#19 Mar 19, 2008
Guys it is about the money. The money for the court cost the money for the towing of your vehicle. It is not about the law and it darn sure is not about justice. There is no such thing as justice, there is only the law. And of course those money hungry people who inforce it from the law enforcement to the and especially the judicial system.
I recently watched as a 22 year old male charged with public intox, possesion of controlled substance, and possession of weed was told by judge in TN he was sentenced to 11/29 but if he could pay a fine that day he could be on unsupervised probation for 60 days. And no it was not his first offense. It is about money. I have a friend who does not drink at all arrested for public intox, as she disputed this with the officer she demanded the same test for DUI, he put her in the cell and told her to tell it to the judge. 1536.00 later the charges were droped. Money, our state is eat up with the corruption of it.
Nobody

Kingsport, TN

#20 Mar 19, 2008
Maybeshy wrote:
Guys it is about the money. The money for the court cost the money for the towing of your vehicle. It is not about the law and it darn sure is not about justice. There is no such thing as justice, there is only the law. And of course those money hungry people who inforce it from the law enforcement to the and especially the judicial system.
I recently watched as a 22 year old male charged with public intox, possesion of controlled substance, and possession of weed was told by judge in TN he was sentenced to 11/29 but if he could pay a fine that day he could be on unsupervised probation for 60 days. And no it was not his first offense. It is about money. I have a friend who does not drink at all arrested for public intox, as she disputed this with the officer she demanded the same test for DUI, he put her in the cell and told her to tell it to the judge. 1536.00 later the charges were droped. Money, our state is eat up with the corruption of it.
You are wrong. Your vehicle will not be towed if you are charged with public intoxication, obviously because a vehicle will not be involved. The fact that your friend does not drink has no relevance to public intoxication. If you take a loritab and fall around in front of an officer, you are in violation of the public intoxication law. There is no law that says a person charged with PI is allowed to request the same test as a person charged wit DUI.
Good Question

Columbia, TN

#21 Mar 19, 2008
Davey Crockett wrote:
On another note, the small town that I was raised in, had a drunk policy. If you weren't driving a car, or causing trouble, the police would put you in their car and drive you home. No arrests were made. If you were stupid enough to resist being taken home, then you were arrested and spent the night in jail. There were several bars in town, but very little crime. The police force was respected and appreciated.
Davey Crockett, you grew up in a reasonable town with a sensible police force. The policy you describe is a common one for many towns. It is not the policy here in Hawkins County, on in most of Tennessee. As a result, people are frustrated. Could this be part of why Tennessee has the second highest violent crime rate in the entire United States?
Rockytop98

Knoxville, TN

#22 Mar 20, 2008
Is it against the law to drink on your front porch here?

No one has arrested me yet. I've been porch drinking close to 20 years. It is sort of my hobby!!! Just ask my neighbors. But I ain't caused no kind of ruckus......yet!!!!
I witnessed a crime while porch drinking and Buster came by.....that's another whole story.LMAO!

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