Difference between Drunk in Public vs. Drunk & Disorderly in NC

Understanding the Difference Between Being Drunk in Public and Drunk and Disorderly in North Carolina

As a criminal defense attorney in North Carolina, one of the common issues that I come across is the distinction between being drunk in public and being intoxicated and disruptive. While both involve being drunk in a public place, there are important differences between the two that can have significant legal consequences. In this blog post, I will explain what it means to be drunk in public and intoxicated and disruptive in North Carolina, the legal consequences of each offense, and common defenses to these charges.

Being Drunk in Public in North Carolina

Simply put, being drunk in public is not a crime in North Carolina. Before you can commit a crime for being drunk in public, you have to engage in another act such as driving or those enumerated in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-444 which is discussed below. While it is not uncommon to see folks getting arrested for being drunk in public as a means to get them off the streets to sober up, this is usually done under the guise of being intoxicated and disruptive in violation of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-444.

Drunk and Disorderly in North Carolina

Intoxicated and disruptive, on the other hand, is actually a crime.. In North Carolina, this offense is defined under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-444 as follows:
“(a) It shall be unlawful for any person in a public place to be intoxicated and disruptive in any of the following ways:
(1) Blocking or otherwise interfering with traffic on a highway or public vehicular area, or
(2) Blocking or lying across or otherwise preventing or interfering with access to or passage across a sidewalk or entrance to a building, or
(3) Grabbing, shoving, pushing or fighting others or challenging others to fight, or
(4) Cursing or shouting at or otherwise rudely insulting others, or
(5) Begging for money or other property.
(b) Any person who violates this section shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.
To be charged with intoxicated and disruptive, an individual must not only be drunk in public but also be disruptive. Being disruptive means engaging in any of the five activities listed above. . The legal consequences of being found guilts intoxicated and disruptive can include a fine of up to $200.00 and up to 20 days of jail time.
Common defenses to being drunk and disorderly include arguing that the individual was not actually being disruptive, such as actually engaging in one of the five enumerated activities defined in the statute.. Additionally, if the prosecution cannot prove that the individual was intoxicated, they may not be able to secure a conviction.

Differences Between Being Drunk in Public and Drunk and Disorderly

The key difference between being drunk in public and intoxicated and disruptive is the requirement of disruptive behavior for the latter charge. While being drunk in public is not technically a crime in NC, being charged with intoxicated and disruptive requires that an individual’s behavior is also disruptive.

What To Do If You Need Legal Help

Understanding the difference between being drunk in public and being intoxicated and disruptive is crucial for anyone who may find themselves facing criminal charges. If you have been charged with being intoxicated and disruptive, don’t hesitate to reach out for a consultation with our office. A qualified criminal defense attorney can help you navigate the legal system, understand your rights, and build a strong defense to protect your future. By working with me, as an experienced attorney, you can increase your chances of achieving the best possible outcome for your case.

Fill out the form below or give us a call at 704-406-9416 to schedule a consultation.

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