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Can you get arrested for walking home drunk from a bar or party?

You know perfectly well that it is not legal to get behind the wheel of a car when you have had too much to drink. Drunk driving is dangerous because it could lead to a crash or to an arrest. Criminal charges related to drunk driving could also hurt your career, your education or your relationships.

If you failed to pace yourself while out at a party or a bar, you may choose to leave your vehicle behind and walk home. You may intend to avoid breaking the law about impaired driving, but you may end up violating a different state law.

Although paying for a taxi or similar ride service could be a bit expensive, it could save you from an interaction with the police that could lead to your arrest. Those walking in public in Virginia while visibly under the influence of alcohol could find themselves stopped by police officers and facing criminal accusations.

Public intoxication is a crime in Virginia

Although, technically, you did make the better choice by walking home, you are still in violation of Virginia state law. Police officers can arrest anyone who is visibly drunk for a misdemeanor charge and hold them until they are sober again.

If you get arrested for public intoxication, you could face a Class 4 misdemeanor charge. Typically, the biggest penalty, other than the criminal record, will be the fine a judge assesses, which could be up to $250. Those charges could affect your eligibility for enrollment in college, your student aid, your position at work and even your professional license.

How can you defend yourself?

Many people choose to plead guilty to public intoxication charges because they don’t see the value in going to court. However, having even a misdemeanor on your record could mean significant hardship for you in the future. You may be able to prove that there was an issue with the blood alcohol test administered by the police officer or that there are medical explanations for the symptoms that they thought were signs of intoxication.

Understanding state law and reviewing the evidence against you will both be important if you want to fight back against public intoxication charges in Virginia.