After over a year of staying away from others and keeping distance, people are more than ready to get back out and socialize this year. With the 4th of July holiday right around the corner, it seems like the perfect time to celebrate with friends and put an end to social isolation for good.
The question is what you choose to do with your holiday. If your holiday celebration is going to involve alcohol, then you need to be aware of how and where you drink. Being drunk in public can easily turn into a drunk and disorderly charge that will go on your criminal record.
Here’s what you need to know about drunk and disorderly charges in North Carolina and the penalties that can be faced if you’re charged with it and found guilty.
Drunk But Not Disorderly
In North Carolina, it is not against the law to simply be drunk in public. The law in the state says that in any location open to the public, even a privately owned space, it’s legal for someone to be intoxicated. This includes sidewalks, parking lots, office buildings, restaurants, and stores.
However, police do have a right to take a person into custody if they are a danger to themselves when drunk in public.
Often, they’ll simply take you home or deliver you to the care of someone who will make sure you are safe. They’ll also take you to the hospital if you’re in need of medical care – or they can keep you in protective custody for up to 24 hours.
These things are not considered crimes. There is a line when a person can go from being drunk in public to drunk and disorderly in public, which is a crime in North Carolina.
What Is Drunk and Disorderly Conduct in North Carolina?
Under the law in North Carolina, a person can be convicted of drunk and disorderly conduct if they are intoxicated in public and act in one of these disruptive ways:
- They block traffic or otherwise interfere with traffic on a road or highway
- They interfere or block the passage of others on sidewalks or at the entrance of a building
- They shove, push, or grab others
- They insult, curse, or shout rudely at another person
- They beg for money or other items
If any of these things are done by a person who is also drunk, they can be arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct.
The Penalties for Drunk and Disorderly Conduct
In North Carolina, this is a Class 3 misdemeanor. That means that if it’s your first offense, you can face up to 10 days behind bars and be responsible for fines of $200. However, prior convictions will double the time in jail to 20 days.
Being arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct is serious. You may not end up spending much time in jail or be required to pay hefty fines, but it will go on your criminal record – and that can follow you around for the rest of your life.
That’s why if you’re arrested for being drunk and disorderly in public, your best bet is to try to stay calm and exercise your right to remain silent. Then, get in touch with an attorney who can help you through the process.
You have rights. Make sure you take full advantage of them no matter what you’re being accused of – even when intoxicated.