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Public Intoxication in Nevada

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Public drunkenness in and of itself is not a crime in Nevada. Just take a walk on the Las Vegas strip and see how many people are walking with drinks in their hands to prove that point. 

However, this does not mean that a person cannot get in trouble for behavior from being blatantly drunk while in public. Drinking in public has a gray area when it encroaches on other criminal behavior, such as trespass, breach of the peace, or drunk driving. 

Public Intoxication as a Crime

Many states do treat public intoxication as a crime, with the State of Nevada being one of the exceptions. The legal definition of public intoxication is “the use of alcohol, the status of drunkard and the fact of being found in an intoxicated condition are not public offenses and shall not be treated so in any ordinance or resolution of a country, city, or town.” 

That being said, being intoxicated to the point where the person begins to make poor decisions or acts in an careless or belligerent manner, is where criminal issues begin to arise. 

Disturbing the Peace 

One of the common crimes that goes along with being intoxicated in public is disturbing the peace. Disturbing the peace is also often referred to as breach of peace, and under NRS 203.010, it occurs when someone behaves in a highly disruptive or hostile manner in public. 

It can happen when someone has too much to drink and begins behaving obnoxiously or loudly to those around him or her, or it can also occur when someone drinks too much at a local casino and falls asleep on the casino floor. Both of these incidents would be considered breaching the peace and can result in an arrest. 

Many times, individuals who get arrested for breach of peace will be prosecuted for the crime of disorderly conduct. Both offenses tend to carry the same penalties, however. Disturbing the peace is a misdemeanor in Nevada with penalties of up to six months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. 

Trespass 

In other situations where an individual is publicly intoxicated in Nevada, a charge for the crime of trespass may be brought. Trespass, under NRS 207.200, is brought in more serious situations when an individual’s behavior is more than just an inconvenience but begins to cross into the lines of being disruptive. 

For instance, if a patron at a local casino drinks so much that he or she begins to verbally accost those around him or her, that person could be booked for trespass charges. Even in situations where the person is intoxicated, is asked to leave, and later returns sober, he or she can still be charged for trespass, despite the fact that the person is sober when he or she returns that night.  

A trespass charge is also a misdemeanor in Nevada, and the penalties carry up to six months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.

Open Container Law

In addition, the State of Nevada expressly forbids anyone from drinking an alcoholic beverage while they are either driving or are in actual physical control of a vehicle. That would qualify as a DUI offense. 

However, on top of that, the law also forbids anyone from having an open alcoholic beverage container in the passenger area of a motor vehicle while the car is being driven. 

For instance, if the party ends at the hotel, and one of the passengers continues to consume alcohol while being driven home, this could be a violation of the open container law, even if the driver himself is not drinking. The consumption of alcohol can lead to that lapse in judgment, resulting in a criminal offense. 

Physical Battery or Assault

The consumption of alcohol can also lead to other poor choices. The behavior that can lead to disrupting the peace can then continue into someone else being physically injured because of the intoxicated person’s actions. 

Alcohol can quickly fuel the fires in a fight, resulting in decisions and behavior that the person may not be inclined to do without the influence of alcohol. The public consumption of alcohol, therefore, can quickly blur those lines, leading to more than just a misdemeanor disrupting the peace or trespass offense. 

Contact Us Today!

If you have been arrested for a DUI while visiting Nevada, it is important you contact the Hill Firm today. We can meet with you to discuss your rights and all potential legal consequences from your arrest. Contact us today at 702-848-5000

Dan Hill