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Disorderly Intoxication - Florida Statute 856.011 | West Palm Beach Crime Lawyer

Florida Statute 856.011 makes it a crime to be drunk and endanger the life or property of another person or to be drunk in a public place or conveyance and cause a disturbance.

People react differently to alcohol, especially when emotions are at play like a romantic breakup or death. A scenario for being arrested for this crime is where an individual goes partying to hide the pain of a breakup and gets “wasted.” The individual starts making a scene by loudly saying things at the club and is subsequently arrested.

This crime covers two different scenarios: (1) being drunk to where you endanger people or property or (2) causing a disturbance in a public place or conveyance while being drunk.

What the State Prosecutor Has to Prove to Convict a Defendant of This Crime

The state prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant either:
    1. Was intoxicated and he endangered the safety of another person or property; or
    2. Was intoxicated or drank any alcoholic beverage in a public place in or upon a public conveyance and caused a public disturbance

Being intoxicated is more than being under the influence (a little tipsy), this is what people would commonly refer to as being drunk, “slammed,” or “hammered” to the point of having lost or been deprived of the normal control the body or mind.

Endangering People or Property

This statute is “not an attempt to regulate the morality of any individual but rather it is a valid attempt to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public in general and as such it must be considered a valid delegation of authority.” State v. Holden, 299 So.2d 8, 9 (Fla. 1974).

Causing a Disturbance in a Public Place or Conveyance While Being Drunk

The disturbance must be in a public place or conveyance and not in a private location. For example, in Royster v. State, the defendant was held to not have violated this statute because he was on his private front porch. See Royster v. State, 643 So. 2d 61, 64 (Fla. 1st DCA 1994).

Examples of conduct not considered disorderly conduct:

  • Smelling of alcohol, flapping his arms, using profanity, and talking loudly in a restaurant was not considered disorderly conduct. See Blake v. State, 433 So. 2d 611, 612 (Fla. 1st DCA 1983).

  • The ex-boyfriend of a police dispatcher was drunk and sad about a break-up. He went to the police station where he talked to an officer, left the station, then returned, threw down his keys, crumpled his sunglasses, threw them on the ground, started using profanity, and would not leave. The court held this was not disorderly conduct. See Jernigan v. State , 566 So. 2d 39, 39-40 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990).


As you can see from the above cases, the prosecutor is going to have a hard time proving that you were an endangerment to the public. The endangerment standard is pretty high. The easier way for the prosecutor to convict a defendant is to prove the defendant was causing a disturbance in a public place while drunk. Depending on the facts of the situation, how much of a disturbance was being caused? Was this a noisy downtown bar district where noise, profanity, and yelling is constantly part of the atmosphere or is this in a quiet public park?


This crime is a second-degree misdemeanor which is punishable up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. If you have been convicted of this crime three times within the previous 12 months, you can be committed to a facility for up to 60 days.

Contact the Law Office of Roger P. Foley, P.A.

If you have been charged with this crime, call our law offices to schedule a 5 minute free consultation with one of our attorneys. Our West Palm Beach Disorderly Intoxication Attorneys focus on criminal cases in the South Florida area. These types of cases can be defended, so we need to talk to you to find out your version of the story. We will craft a defense strategy from those facts. We will find out what evidence the prosecutor has against you and what the police officers and witnesses observed regarding the situation. All this evidence will be used to negotiate with the prosecutor to have the charges dropped. In the event the evidence against you is great, our West Palm Beach Disorderly Intoxication Attorneys won’t throw in the towel. We can take your case to trial or negotiate a plea deal. Whatever happens, know that we will be there to fight to get you the best solution.

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