Let's say you're out one night, having a few drinks with friends. You've had a little too much, and you're feeling drunk. You decide to take a walk to get some fresh air and get away from the noise of the crowd you're with. But as you're out, you wonder if your actions are considered criminal and if you could be charged for being inebriated in public. In Utah, that depends on what you're doing.
Utah's Intoxication Law
Under Utah law, it is illegal to be drunk in public when your actions could put you or another person in danger. Merely being drunk isn't enough to result in a charge.
Returning to the earlier hypothetical example, if you're just out taking a stroll and not harming yourself or others, you wouldn't be engaged in unlawful behavior. However, say you come across a group of people, and you start taunting them, or you pull your fist back and act like you're going to strike one of them. In that case, your actions are endangering the safety of others, and you could be charged with intoxication.
Utah's law does not only apply to being drunk in public. It also criminalizes being drunk in a private place. However, for you to be accused of committing a crime, you must have been doing something to unreasonably disturb other people. This means that if you're at a friend's house or your own residence and you start loudly yelling in the yard, you are violating the intoxication law.
Can an Intoxication Conviction Result in Jail Time?
Intoxication is a class C misdemeanor. Offenses charged at this level are penalized by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $750. Additionally, those under 18 years of age convicted of this offense may have their driver's license suspended. For a first conviction, the suspension period is up to 1 year, up to 2 years for a second conviction.
An intoxication charge can also be tacked onto other charges, which means additional conviction penalties may be imposed. For example, if you were drunk in public and acted like you were going to punch someone, you may be accused of committing assault. The crime is a class B misdemeanor, which carries a conviction penalty of up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
Suppose you actually completed the punch, and you caused substantial bodily injury to the other person. Now, your actions could land you a charge for a class A misdemeanor. In Utah, this level and classification of offense is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.If you've been charged with a crime in Salt Lake City, you need aggressive defense. At Lokken & Putnam, P.C., our are ready to provide zealous advocacy throughout your case. Schedule your consultation by contacting us at (801) 829-9783 today.