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The Florida Bar

What is Disorderly Intoxication?

Disorderly intoxication is a criminal offense in Florida that has been distinctly classified under Florida Statute 856.011. For the offense to be disorderly intoxication, either of the following should take place:

  1. The accused person should be intoxicated and is found drinking in a public place or conveyance causing a public disturbance.
  2. The accused person is intoxicated and is endangering property or safety of a person or people.

– Fort Lauderdale DUI Attorney

Florida Law Statue on Disorderly Intoxication

The meaning of intoxication according to the statute does not merely mean being under the influence of alcoholic drinks (as is in a charge for DUI), and embraces a wider perspective. In Florida, intoxication means the alcoholic drink has affected the accused in a way that deprives him or her of the normal control of their mental faculties, body, or both. The term “public place” is defined as any location where any member/s of the public have a right to be. – Broward County DUI Lawyer


The offense of disorderly intoxication carries a second degree misdemeanor charge in Florida, punishable by up to a $500 fine, six months’ probation, 60 days jail time, or any combination of these penalties as the judge might seem fit. If the alleged offender is found to be a repeat offender, who has committed this offense three times in the past twelve months, then the court can order the person to undergo a suitable treatment or rehabilitation program of up to 60 days. – FL DUI Defense Attorney


The decision to arrest the disorderly intoxication offender rests with the officer who is witnessing the offense being committed. If the officer does not decide to incarcerate or arrest the offender, then the officer can take either of these decisions:

  1. Send or take the offender home.
  2. Arrange for a commercial transport to send the offender home, and ascertain that the offender has paid for the transportation in advance.
  3. Send the offender to a public or private healthcare facility.

Even though disorderly intoxication is seen as a minor offense, it still attracts a fine; it can also put the person in prison, and the person will have a permanent criminal record. Therefore, it is important to avoid a conviction by presenting a marvelous case at the trial with the help of a dedicated and sharp defense lawyer.

There are certain aspects of a disorderly intoxication charge that the prosecution has to prove, even if the alleged offender has admitted to drinking alcohol in front of bystanders or police officer. Such admission on its own cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt that it meets the definition of intoxication. It has to be proved that the accused was not in control of his or her body, mental faculties, or both.

Secondly, the prosecution also has to prove that the conduct of the accused was a danger to property or public safety. If there is no evidence of endangering public safety, the defendant can ask for an acquittal. Hence, for a conviction, the prosecution has to prove not only intoxication, but also endangerment of public safety.

– Disorderly Intoxication Attorney

Another grounds for defense is the place where the offense was committed. The prosecution has to prove the location was a public place, where the conduct was witnessed. It is not possible to attain a conviction if the conduct took place on private property.

Diverse Scenarios

The protection of First Amendment rights can also be grounds for a defensive tactic in a disorderly intoxication case, just like in a disorderly conduct charge. If the charges are based on verbal speech, written messages, or expressive conduct under the influence of intoxication, then it should be proved that such acts do not come under the “protected speech” category, to secure a conviction. However, even if it is protected speech, but there was other accompanying conduct that is considered criminal then the person can be convicted for disorderly intoxication.

If you have additional questions about the offense of Disorderly Intoxication feel free to contact Fort Lauderdale DUI Attorney William R. Moore at (954) 523-5333

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