Legal Question in Civil Rights Law in Virginia

Drinking in Public Arrest - Class 4 Misdemeanor

My 19 year old daughter was arrested for ''Drunk in Public''. She was not charged with possession of alcohol, just ''Drunk in Public''. She is scheduled to appear in court on February 19 if she does not pay the $74.00 fine. My question is, if she pays the fine, will this charge be on her permanent record, and, if so, for how long? If she goes to court, what can she expect as her punishment? Does she need a lawyer?

Asked on 1/24/03, 9:43 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Daniel Press Chung & Press, P.C.
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Re: Drinking in Public Arrest - Class 4 Misdemeanor

This is a misdemeanor that will be on her permanent record if convicted. Fairfax County is going overboard in "cracking down" on Drunk in Public ("DIP"), including arresting peaceful people in bars. They are using the standard for driving while intoxicated as the basis for such charges (0.08 BAC), which is NOT the legal standard for DIP. They are also taking a too expansive view of what is "public", charging people who are, for example, passengers in cars that have been pulled over and instructed to get out (claiming that they are in public once they get out). While a bar is arguably "public," inside a car is not. She should definitely get a lawyer and fight this, particularly if she was charged under such circumstances, or other questionable circumstances.

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Answered on 1/24/03, 10:17 am

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