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What Does A “Public Consumption Of Alcohol” Charge Mean?

In Arizona, it is unlawful to consume alcohol in certain public places. While you can drink alcohol in an establishment that serves alcohol if you are of legal age, you cannot walk outside on the street drinking an alcoholic beverage. Public consumption laws in Arizona can be confusing and you may be charged with other offenses in conjunction with drinking in public. It is important to know the law and your rights to avoid having a public consumption conviction added to your record. The team at Matthew Lopez Law, PLLC, can help decipher the Arizona law regarding public consumption and help fight to protect your rights if you are charged with an alcohol-related offense.

The Arizona Code 4-244 outlines many of the alcohol-related provisions, with 4-244-20 addressing public consumption. The code states that it is illegal “For a person to consume spirituous liquor in a public place, thoroughfare or gathering.” This does not apply to private property or public recreation areas unless the person is underage. However, there are not “drunk in public” or “public intoxication” charges in Arizona, like there are in many other states. It is the consumption of alcohol in a public place that is illegal, not the act of being intoxicated in a public place. If you were arrested for public consumption, but you were not drinking in public, you may be able to have the charges dismissed with the help of an experienced attorney.

The Impact Of A Public Consumption Conviction

Being convicted of public consumption of alcohol or drinking in public can have serious consequences. It is a Class 2 misdemeanor with a fine, possible jail time and probation. It can also stay on your permanent record, which can have long-lasting impacts on your life. At Matthew Lopez Law, we have represented many clients that have been charged with this crime and helped them keep this conviction off their record. Unfortunately, some people choose to plead guilty and pay the fine, thinking it will not affect their record. This conviction can impact their future employment opportunities and can appear when any background check is conducted.

In addition to public consumption charges, there are other citations that may be issued if you are found drinking in public. For minors, any possession of alcohol is prohibited and can lead to a minor in possession charge. While you cannot be charged with public intoxication, you may be charged with disorderly conduct or other related charges.

Fighting Public Consumption Charges In Arizona

If you are charged with any alcohol-related offense in Arizona, you should never plead guilty without talking to a lawyer. Our team at Matthew Lopez Law has helped many of our clients get charges for public consumption, minor in possession and disorderly conduct dismissed or reduced. We work relentlessly to give our clients the upper hand when facing a permanent record for a temporary lapse in judgment. Contact our office in Tempe by calling 602-960-1731 or emailing the firm to talk to one of our legal experts to find out more about fighting your public consumption charge.