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When Having Too Much to Drink is Illegal

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BY Grover Collins

Founder & Managing Member

While there may not be anything wrong with having a few beers this weekend, be careful not to over-indulge and be “unreasonably annoying.”

Of all the complex laws in the Tennessee Code Annotated, this one is straight-forward. Public Intoxication is a crime often busted by local metro police officers patrolling Broadway on a weekend, Titans football games on Sundays, and maybe even that rowdy brunch time on Saturdays.

However, the time and day for public intoxication matters are irrelevant, but the place is very important.

Public Intoxication law

39-17-310. Public intoxication.

(a)  A person commits the offense of public intoxication who appears in a public place under the influence of a controlled substance or any other intoxicating substance to the degree that:

(1)  The offender may be endangered;

(2)  There is endangerment to other persons or property; or

(3)  The offender unreasonably annoys people in the vicinity.

Where and when the law applies

However, for this specific criminal charge to apply, the person must be in a public place. Though the term “public place” can be subjective, it no doubt applies to football games, downtown bars/restaurants, and outdoor concerts.

Secondly, the offender must either be a danger to self or others OR… the offender could be “unreasonably annoying” to other people. I don’t know about you, but that seems like it applies to a lot of intoxicated people.

While there may not be anything wrong with having a few beers this weekend (or weekday, no one is judging), be careful not to over-indulge and be “unreasonably annoying.”

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