Public Intoxication –

Criminal defense attorneys are happy to help when someone gets into trouble with the law – indeed, its pretty much the job description.  But with football season now on us (can’t wait to hear Smokey howl), I’ve been trying to focus posts on equipping loyal readers with knowledge on how to stay out of trouble: past posts on DUIs (like this one or this one); recently posting to my Facebook page the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s list of checkpoints and their announcement of a “No Refusal Weekend” this Labor Day Weekend (click here for the press release); last week’s post on open containers; and now this post on the Tennessee Criminal Charge of Public Intoxication.

Here is the Tennessee statute on Public Intoxication for your review:

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, controlled substance analogue 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.

As one of Tennessee’s shorter statutes, Public Intoxication does not require too much breaking down.  In Tennessee, you are guilty of Public Intoxication if you are (1) in a public place, (2) under the influence of “a controlled substance, controlled substance analogue, or any other intoxication substance” (aka, it does not have to be alcohol – for instance, marijuana and “meth” are examples of controlled substances”) and you are (3) a danger to yourself, others, others’ property, or are annoying those around you.  If found guilty of Public Intoxication, it is a Class C misdemeanor (meaning punishment can include up to 30 days in jail, court costs, and a fine of up to $3,000).

However, just because it is one of Tennessee’s shorter statutes does not mean there are not defenses if you or someone you know is charged with this crime.  Often a Criminal Defense attorney can work out a resolution far better than the maximum punishments listed above, though what can be done varies on a case-by-case basis.

And hopefully now you better know how to keep yourself (and loved ones) out of trouble, so you can fully enjoy the game!


The author of Defending Tennessee is Nicholas W. Lee, Esq., an attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee (please click here for contact information).  Also, please feel free to visit Mr. Lee’s website,, or follow his page on Facebook for updates as to his law practice or new posts to Defending Tennessee by clicking here.

The information on this site is general information and should not be construed as legal advice. Every case is unique and you should consult with an attorney in your state about the specific details of your case. Nothing on this site or in correspondence with Nicholas Lee or his agents shall be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship and information you send prior to the forming of an attorney-client relationship may not be kept confidential. Neither this site nor correspondence with Nicholas Lee or his agents shall be construed as a promise nor as undertaking a duty regarding you or your case. Nicholas Lee and his agents are not retained as your legal counsel unless a valid written Representation Agreement is reached regarding your specific case.

Copyright © 2014. Nicholas W. Lee, Attorney at Law. All rights reserved. This site’s content may not be used without the prior written consent of Nicholas Lee.

“Defending Tennessee” is a privately-ran legal blog and is not a public legal aid agency.


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