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What Should I Do If I Was Arrested for Being Drunk in Public?

During my time as an Oakland Police Officer, we arrested many people in public places who were unable to care for themselves or others. We would find people passed out and lying on the sidewalk and reeking of the smell of alcohol. We were trained to arrest them for disorderly conduct and send them to jail where they would sober up in the drunk tank.

We were not trained to conducted chemical tests to see what their blood alcohol was. If they had other symptoms, like dilated pupils or alcohol smell, we would arrest them for being drunk in public and no other chemical tests would be performed.

According to California Penal Code§ 647(f), disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor. Anyone that is under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, controlled substance, toluene, or any combination of any intoxicating liquor, drug, controlled substance, or toluene, in a condition that he or she is unable to exercise care for his or her own safety or the safety of others can be arrested for disorderly conduct.

Many police officers do not know that under 647(g), a person arrested for drunk in public should be placed in civil protective custody and any person in civil protective custody shall not be subject to any criminal prosecution.

Civil protective custody is not applicable in the following 3 circumstances:

  • Under the influence of any drug
  • The person committed a felony or any misdemeanor other than drunk in public
  • The person will attempt to escape or is unruly for medical personnel

California Pena Code §647(g) states:

“When a person has violated subdivision (f), a peace officer, if he or she is reasonably able to do so, shall place the person, or cause him or her to be placed, in civil protective custody. The person shall be taken to a facility, designated pursuant to Section 5170 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, for the 72-hour treatment and evaluation of inebriates. A peace officer may place a person in civil protective custody with that kind and degree of force which would be lawful were he or she effecting an arrest for a misdemeanor without a warrant. A person who has been placed in civil protective custody shall not thereafter be subject to any criminal prosecution or juvenile court proceeding based on the facts giving rise to this placement. This subdivision shall not apply to the following persons:

  1. Any person who is under the influence of any drug, or under the combined influence of intoxicating liquor and any drug.
  2. Any person who a peace officer has probable cause to believe has committed any felony, or who has committed any misdemeanor in addition to subdivision (f).
  3. Any person who a peace officer in good faith believes will attempt to escape or will be unreasonably difficult for medical personnel to control.

If you have been arrested for disorderly conduct or being drunk in public, you should immediately get in touch with our office to discuss the details of your case. Our skilled lawyers will use our full resources to seal your arrest record. Contact us today to request your consultation.

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