What is Public Intoxication in Chicago?

Updated on 08/11/2023 / Under

If you have been arrested for public intoxication you may find yourself in a difficult situation. A qualified Chicago lawyer will have the skills and expertise you need to see your case dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge. 

A fun night out with friends and a trip to the bar can be a great way to unwind for many people. It can also end with an embarrassing arrest in the right circumstances. 

It can be difficult to find the right defense and avoid charges if you have been arrested while over the legal limit. At best you may be facing a night in jail, but the reality is you will likely see more severe penalties. Our attorneys at Ktenas Law know how an arrest can impact your reputation, as well as your criminal record. We also know how an experienced Chicago criminal & DUI defense lawyer can help in these situations. Contact us today at 312-756-8652 to schedule an appointment for your free initial consultation to see what we can do for you!

Common Charges Public Intoxication Can Lead to in Illinois

It is not illegal to be intoxicated in public in Illinois. There is actually a state law that prevents local governments from making public intoxication a punishable offense. The state views intoxication as a medical and social issue rather than a criminal one and aims to get people treatment versus punishment. 

Chicago criminal defense lawyer Alex Ktenas

With that being the case, being drunk in public can still be a risk as it can contribute to you being arrested for several offenses. You can certainly be charged with a crime if you are drunk on public property and do something violent, dangerous, or disruptive. Possible criminal charges can include:

  • Disorderly conduct – Acting in an unreasonable manner that alarms or disturbs others and may provoke a breach of the peace. This can be a misdemeanor or a felony with fines reaching up to $10,000 and a possibility of jail time and community service. 
  • Assault - This can be a misdemeanor with up to $1,500 in fines, 30 days in jail and community service. Aggravated assault is a felony charge that often involves a weapon and penalties are much more severe. 
  • Drunk Driving - A first-time DUI arrest will face a fine of up to $1,000, 6 months in jail, and a driver's license suspension of up to one year. Subsequent offences will face more severe punishments. 
  • Open Container in a Motor Vehicle - This involves driving with a open container of alcohol in your vehicle. It is a petty crime that typically does not result in jail time, but may cost you your license for a period of time.
  • Public Indecency - Exposing yourself in a lewd manner in a public area can result in up to 1 year in jail and a fine reaching up to $2,500.
  • Underage Drinking - Possession and consumption of alcohol are illegal for anyone under the age of 21. This can result in jail time, a driver's license suspension, and community service.

Criminal convictions all carry collateral consequences and stigmas that can stick with you for the rest of your life. Employers are legally allowed to discriminate against people based on their criminal history, so finding a job could be more challenging. Many colleges and universities will view applications less favorably if the applicant has a criminal history. Immigrants can face deportation after even minor criminal convictions. 

Public Intoxication Consequences

At the most simple explanation, public intoxication in Chicago is legal. There are, however, a number of charges that can be filed against someone due to behaviors that may be the result of intoxication, including disorderly conduct and assault. You can face severe consequences as well as months of incarceration for either of these crimes if convicted. You should hire an experienced Chicago criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible if you have been accused of a crime while under the influence of alcohol.

Being arrested and charged can be a frightening time for many people. A criminal conviction could adversely impact your career and family life. If you are imprisoned for any amount of time you could lose your job, and your family may struggle without your income. If you are arrested while driving with a blood alcohol content over the legal limit you may face even more damage to your reputation in addition to the legal consequences. Our legal team at Ktenas Law can help you preserve your freedom and reputation regardless of the circumstances surrounding your case. We have the experience and skills you will need to have to face your charges and reach the best possible result for your situation. 

an image of tequila shots on a bar

Penalties for Public Intoxication

While you cannot be arrested in Chicago for public intoxication, you may find yourself in legal trouble if there are other factors in your case. Being accused of starting a bar fight or damaging private or public property can both find you facing charges, for example. In situations like this, you are not being arrested for public intoxication, but you can face crimes related to it. Disorderly conduct is another example of a common offense that is often used in situations of public drunkenness. 

You will face different levels of penalties based on the severity of your charges. As an example, disorderly conduct is a Class C misdemeanor, while battery is at least a Class A misdemeanor and may be more severe depending on the circumstances. You should consult with a criminal defense attorney to fully understand the charges you face and the punishments and penalties you could receive. 

Keep in mind that your troubles may not end at criminal punishments, but can include a number of administrative consequences as well. These can include the required installation of an ignition interlock device, costly fines, and other additional costs from fees or similar charges. 

For obvious reasons, you will want to avoid the penalties that come with a criminal conviction, or at a minimum avoid the most severe ones. Having an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney to assist you in building your defense is your best shot at succeeding. Your choices for building the defense for your case will depend on your specific situation and can be laid out clearly and simply by your lawyer. Common defense strategies include an aggressive push against the validity of a field sobriety test or breathalyzer, as well as the removal of certain evidence from the prosecution's case. 

Remember that simply being intoxicated is not a defense against criminal charges. If you can prove, however, that you were involuntarily intoxicated, you may be able to use that as a defense because you did not intend to find yourself in the state you were in. If you were unable to control your actions, you may have your case dismissed on those grounds. 

a photo of an intoxicated person sitting on a bench

Finding the proper defense and knowing what will work for your case takes time and, most importantly, experience handling similar cases. Our attorneys at Ktenas Law have what it takes to build an aggressive defense to get you the best possible results for your case. 

Experienced Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyers

If you are facing criminal charges, you probably have the consequences of a conviction at the forefront of your thoughts. Going through the legal system can be an intimidating situation to find yourself in, and the prosecution knows this. You may find yourself overwhelmed, and tempted to plead guilty to the charges simply to move on with your life. This is where experience in the criminal justice system can help. A talented Chicago attorney can help you negotiate a better plea deal, possibly get your charges dismissed, or build a strong defense to win your trial.

Whatever charges you face, from having an open container, to disturbing the peace, to assault, having high-quality legal representation can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. With our track record of success with getting charges reduced or dismissed against past clients, at Ktenas Law we have what it takes to get you the best possible result for your case. We have the knowledge and experience to guide you through every step of your case, ensure that your rights are upheld, and help you fully understand all of your legal options. Call us today or schedule an appointment online for a free case consultation to see how we can help you!