Public Intoxication in Virginia by Misdemeanor Lawyer Fairfax VA

If you might be facing a criminal misdemeanor, it is important that you contact a misdemeanor lawyer in Fairfax, VA at May Law, LLP right away! It may seem obvious that a person cannot be charged with public intoxication while inside their own homes, but what about outside? What can happen if you are intoxicated on your own outdoor property, such as a front porch?

What is Considered a Public Place
Our legal team is aware that in Virginia a “public” place is defined as, “any place, building, or conveyance to which the public has, or is permitted to have access.”  See Virginia Code § 4.1-100. However, the courts have expanded the functional definition of “public” to refer to any outdoor place that is visible to others, even if it is on your own private property. This means that you can be charged with public intoxication for simply standing on the front steps of your own home while under the influence of alcohol.

While there have been court rulings in other states related to excessive alcohol consumption on one’s own front steps or porch, Virginia courts have not so limited the scope of what constitutes “public” space. A Fairfax, misdemeanor lawyer in VA has seen these kinds of circumstances before, and will know how to advise you if you find yourself in this kind of situation. Sometimes what constitutes “private property” in a public intoxication case can be confusing.

Knowing that you can be arrested for public intoxication in Virginia while on your own property, it is important to consider steps you can take to avoid an unnecessary misdemeanor charge.  First and foremost, do not become intoxicated! Then you do not have to worry if you are in a public or private space. However, sometimes circumstances are such that a person will consume one too many drinks, and having a member of our legal team on your side is important when this occurs.

The situation is not uncommon: a citizen is throwing a party at a private residence that involves alcohol consumption. Perhaps the music is loud, or the guests are a bit rowdy, and a neighbor calls the police. When law enforcement arrives, they may ask you to step outside so they can talk to you. However, keep in mind that if you are drunk, stepping outside is all an officer will need to arrest and charge you with public intoxication. You could end up being charged simply for complying with an officer’s request. If this happens to you, call a misdemeanor lawyer in Fairfax at May Law, LLP to protect your rights and help you explore potential options moving forward.

How Intoxication is Defined
Virginia law defines “intoxication” as having consumed enough alcohol that it changes your “manner, disposition, speech, muscular movement, general appearance or behavior.”  See Virginia Code § 4.1-100. While many point to the .08 blood alcohol content standard that is commonly known, the police do not have to give you a breath or blood test to charge you with public intoxication.  Instead, they can charge you based on their observations of your behavior. We understand what burden a prosecutor will have to meet to prove you were intoxicated and use that knowledge to help defend your case.

Public intoxication is a Class 4 misdemeanor that can come with an up-to $250 fine.  We know that there is no jail time associated with a Class 4 misdemeanor. To be sure, the police may handcuff you and take you to a holding area, or a specified detox center, for a few hours while you sober up. But there is generally no risk of jail time as part of a criminal sentence.  Because of this, many people may think it is unnecessary to hire an attorney if facing a drunk in public charge. This is not accurate and if you are charged with public intoxication you should hire a misdemeanor lawyer in VA immediately.

For example, although the punishment may not be very severe relative to other charges, it is still a criminal offense that will be put on your permanent record. This can impact job prospects, school admission, security clearances, and other aspect of your future.  This is why we always recommend contacting our team, no matter how small the charge may seem.

Underage DUIs – The Basics
Unless special circumstances apply, most adult motorists are only cited with a DUI or DWI infraction if their blood alcohol level tops 0.08 percent. However, underage motorists are not allowed to have any alcohol in their blood. In general, an underage motorist may be charged with a DUI or DWI infraction if their blood tests positive for the presence of alcohol at any detectable level whatsoever.

Once an underage motorist is charged with a DUI, he or she faces steep penalties. For example, Virginia generally treats an underage DUI or DWI as a Class One misdemeanor. Related penalties may include (but are not limited to): fines, community service, driver safety class attendance, alcohol and/or drug rehabilitation attendance, license suspension, ignition interlock installation, probation and/or incarceration.

It is also possible that these charges will impact your child’s schooling and/or employment. If your child has a child of his/her own, these charges could impact child custody and/or parenting time arrangements. These are only some of the many reasons why an underage DUI or DWI charge must be treated seriously and urgently. Failing to adequately respond to legitimate or illegitimate charges could impact your child for life. As a result, it is imperative that if your child has been charged with an underage DUI or DWI, you need to contact an experienced Virginia misdemeanor lawyer in Fairfax now.

How DUIs Are Handled When Driver is Underage
Everybody makes mistakes. The key to mitigating potential consequences associated with mistakes usually involves addressing the fallout promptly and to the best of one’s ability. For example, say that your underage son or daughter has recently been charged with drinking and driving. It can be tempting to ignore that your son or daughter possibly had a serious lapse in judgment.

It can also be tempting to ignore the charges, especially if they seem to be trumped up or motivated by unacceptable biases. However, it is important to address this reality head-on. Failure to act quickly can limit your family’s legal options and weaken our team’s capacity to mount a strong defense.

If your underage son or daughter has recently been charged with drinking and driving (or drugged driving or otherwise driving while impaired/under the influence) please contact May Law, LLP now. The sooner you act, the sooner we can begin working on a strong, informed legal strategy, regardless of the specific circumstances surrounding the alleged offense.

Get an Attorney Immediately
If you were arrested for a DUI, it’s critical that you contact an attorney quickly. Our Virginia misdemeanor lawyers are available even after-hours if you or a loved one is behind bars after an arrest. If you are out on bail, do not delay in calling us. The best outcome possible will depend on large part on your actions or inaction going forward. A seasoned lawyer from May Law, LLP can help you do and say the right thing to leverage your legal rights to lessen the possibility of the police overstepping their bounds or taking advantage of you. We offer a free consultation to motorists who were arrested for DUI—call us right now.

Here are general guidelines about your legal rights following an arrest for a DUI:

  • You have the right to speak with a lawyer after your arrest. Call us regardless of the day or time of night. They can advise you of what you are legally required to do in terms of compliance and what information you must provide to detectives or police officers. Do not offer any information other than your name to officers, cell mates, or anyone else until advised by your lawyer at May Law, LLP.

  • If your DUI field tests came back positive for a blood alcohol level that was over the legal limit, your lawyer can advise you as to whether or not you have the right to be retested by a qualified individual or company of your choice. It is not uncommon for field test equipment to malfunction or be improperly calibrated. However, if the additional testing is admissible, it must be performed within a certain period of time.

  • During your first court appearance, you have the right to learn what charge or charges and penalties you are facing. You also have the right to learn what the minimum and maximum penalties are for a conviction of those charges. A Fairfax misdemeanor lawyer in Virginia can clarify this information for you and if there are extenuating circumstances in your case that could affect the outcome of your case.

  • During your arraignment, you have the right to plead not guilty though your lawyer can offer the best guidance in terms of a legal strategy based on the circumstances of your situation. Regardless of how you may view your circumstances, it’s critical that you consult with a member of our legal team as your plea could greatly impact your future.

  • You have the right to testify during your trial, and you have the right to not testify. In other words, you have the right to stay silent during your trial and not speak on your behalf. Not even the prosecutor can force you to take the stand in court. In fact, the Judge will instruct the jury that just because you chose to not testify does not mean you are automatically guilty of the charge against you. If you do choose to testify in court, the prosecutor will have the opportunity to cross examine you during the trial.


Being Charged as Underaged with DUI or DWI
If your underage son or daughter has been charged with a DUI or a DWI, the charges may be legitimate or illegitimate. Regardless, there are strong defensive tactics that a misdemeanor lawyer in Fairfax, VA may be able to use in order to either get the charges dismissed or to mitigate any potential consequences your son or daughter may be facing in the wake of these accusations.

An underage DUI or DWI conviction is serious business and should not be treated lightly. If your child is convicted and this infraction remains on his or her record, the consequences for his or her employment, schooling, housing and community life could last forever. Please contact a misdemeanor lawyer located in Virginia at May Law, LLP so that we can begin working to protect your child’s rights. 

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