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South Carolina Gross Intoxication in Public Penalties

Under South Carolina state law, it technically isn’t illegal to be intoxicated in public. However, what the law does prohibit is “gross intoxication” in public. Violation of this law is a misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $100 or jail time up to 30 days. Note that this charge cannot be expunged from your record.

The main difference between mere intoxication and gross intoxication is that with gross intoxication the person demonstrates obviously through their behavior and actions that they are under the influence. State law also prohibits such an intoxicated person from attending any meeting, assembly, or congregation convened for religious worship. Violating this aspect of the intoxication law could result in a fine between $20 to $100 and/or jail time for no less than 30 days but no greater than 1 year.

If you have been charged with a crime involving alcohol, you should seek legal guidance for next steps. Depending on your case, misdemeanor penalties could range from fines to jail time, or both. With over 19 years of experience, the Law Offices of Marion M. Moses, LLC, can effectively assess your case and craft a strong defense against your charges. Attorney Moses has experience as a former prosecutor and is dedicated to fighting for his clients’ rights; with his personalized representation, you can expect big-firm results from a boutique law office that treats you with that small-firm feel you’re looking for.

What is Disorderly Conduct in South Carolina?

South Carolina law declares it a misdemeanor to be found in a public place or gathering in a grossly intoxicated condition or to otherwise behave in a disorderly manner. As mentioned earlier, the courts interpret “gross intoxication” as intoxication that is clearly apparent to an outside observer, often a police officer.

Public disorderly conduct refers to a person behaving in a boisterous manner that is observable by members of the public, even if the person is engaging in the behavior in a traditionally private place. For example, if someone is shouting profanity from their own porch, they may still be charged with disorderly conduct if it disturbs neighbors and passersby. Also note that a person may be engaging in public disorderly conduct even when the only people present are the disorderly individual and the arresting officer.

With that in mind, disorderly conduct includes using obscene or profane language in any public place or gathering within hearing distance of a schoolhouse or church. In South Carolina, it also includes firing a gun within 50 yards of a public road while under the influence of alcohol, except on one’s own premises.

Types of Public Places

Note that the law defines a public place as anywhere you do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as:

  • Schools
  • Public Roads
  • Shopping Malls and Stores
  • Public Parks
  • Museums
  • Other places that are open to the public

What are the Penalties for Disorderly Conduct?

Under South Carolina law, public disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $100 and a jail term of not more than 30 days.

What is South Carolina's Open Container Law?

In South Carolina, it is illegal to have an open container of beer, wine or liquor in a motor vehicle under state law. You may only use your vehicle to transport beer or wine in a closed container. However, you may have an open container in your trunk or luggage compartment. Violation of the open container law is a misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $100 and/or up to 30 days in jail.

Defend Against Alcohol Charges in Columbia

A common defense against gross intoxication or disorderly conduct in public could be asserting you were not actually intoxicated, but rather just appeared to be (e.g. stumbling). You could also claim that the conduct did not occur in a public place, but rather in an entirely private setting and not in the presence of a police officer.

No matter what alcohol-related crime you have been charged with, it will be in your best interest to seek legal counsel to avoid any severe penalties. Columbia alcohol crimes lawyer Marion M. Moses will handle your case from start to finish and build a personalized defense strategy based on the particular facts of your situation.

Contact The Law Offices of Marion M. Moses, LLC, by dialing (803) 770-4483 or by submitting an online form here for your free initial consultation today.

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  • Attorney Marion M. Moses Works With You Directly from Start to Finish
  • Committed to Giving Your Case the Genuine, Individualized Attention it Deserves
  • Former State Prosecutor
  • Extensive Experience Handling Criminal Cases from Both Sides of the Law
  • Over 22 Years of Dedicated Legal Experience
  • Former President of the South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense Lawyer (SCACDL)