In the state of Illinois—and every state for that matter—drinking alcohol is a legal act for anyone aged 21 years or older. However, you have likely heard of people being placed under arrest for “public intoxication,” and may wonder how public intoxication could be against the law when drinking alcohol is legal. Fortunately, every state has different criminal laws, and the Illinois Criminal Code does not deem public intoxication to be a criminal offense. While public intoxication may be considered a social or medical ill in Illinois, it is not on its own a crime.

Other Alcohol-Related Offenses

Though you should not be arrested or charged with a crime for public intoxication, other behaviors while you are intoxicated may lead to separate charges. For example, if police believe that you committed any of the following acts, you may be arrested and find yourself facing the following charges:

  • Disorderly Conduct – acting in a way that disturbs someone, provoking a breach of peace, or looking into someone’s windows;
  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI) – trying to drive home;
  • Assault – trying to start a fight;
  • Battery – actually hitting someone;
  • Criminal Damage to Property – causing damage to property;
  • Criminal Trespass – trying to enter a home or business without permission;
  • Burglary – entering someone’s home with the intent to take something;
  • Robbery – trying to forcefully take someone’s personal property from them;
  • Sexual Assault – trying to have sexual relations with someone who does not want to do so.

Some of the above offenses have very seriously penalties if you are convicted, such as costly fines and time in jail. Even if you believe you would never commit one of the above offenses, you have to remember that alcohol may impair your judgment. Additionally, if you believe you are simply having a conversation with someone, they may feel you are disturbing or provoking them, and may alert the police.

What can the police do if I am publicly intoxicated?

Though the police cannot lawfully arrest you for mere intoxication, they may take you into “protective custody.” Though this is not considered an actual arrest, police may force you to go home, go to a hospital or treatment center, or even take you to spend the night in jail until you sober up. Though there should be no record of a protective custody, spending the night in jail or a hospital against your will is never fun.

Contact an Experienced Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help

If you believe you were wrongfully arrested simply because you were legally intoxicated, criminal defense attorney Steven Goldman will stand up for your rights. If you were intoxicated in public but did not commit any illegal act, you are within the bounds of the law and should not be charged or punished for your behavior. Additionally, if you have been charged with a criminal offense such as DUI, disturbing the peace, or damaging property, call Goldman & Associates as soon as possible. We will provide an aggressive defense no matter what kind of charge you are facing.