Legal Question in Criminal Law in Ohio

I was issued a citation under Lakewood,OH law ord 509.03 for public intoxication along with an open container citation. I only had a few beers but the officers said they were able to issue the ticket because i had bloodshot eyes from allergies on the golf course a few hours earlier and strong odor of beer because I was drinking the beer as they approached. However,they denied my request for a breathalyser to prove I was coherent and within legal limit. Can I and is this worth fighting? It's a $ 240 fine.

Asked on 5/22/11, 7:17 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

John Forristal Law Office of John T. Forristal

If you go to court to fight the public intoxication charge you'll have to pay court costs (around $120 - $140) plus the fine for the open container (be difficult to have that dismissed) and hope to get the public intoxication charge dropped.

The ordinance for public intoxication 509.03(b) says: No person, while voluntarily intoxicated, shall do either of the following: (1) In a public place or in the presence of two or more persons engage in conduct likely to be offensive or to cause inconvenience, annoyance or alarm to persons of ordinary sensibilities, which conduct the offender, if he or she were not intoxicated, should know is likely to have such effect on others

(2) Engage in conduct or create a condition which presents a risk of physical harm to himself or herself or another, or to the property of another.

So, can you prove that you were not engaging in offensive conduct, etc? Most likely it would be your word against the police officer. Never a good bet on your own. But generally, a lawyer can talk to the prosecution and get them to drop the charge (unless there is compelling evidence that you were being offensive, etc). If you were just hanging out or walking down the street drinking a beer, a defense attorney should be able to get that charged dropped.

Regarding whether or not you were "within the legal limit," the ordinance says:

(d) When to an ordinary observer a person appears to be intoxicated, it is probable cause to believe such person is voluntarily intoxicated for purposes of subsection (b) hereof. So, it doesn't matter what your actual blood alcohol level is, but whether or not a regular person would think you were intoxicated.

Bottom line: if you don't want to have a public intoxication charge on your record (which most people wouldn't want, and which potential future employers would frown upon), it's worth fighting it. Hope this helps.

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Answered on 5/23/11, 7:08 am

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