April 7, 2015 • Jerod Gunsberg, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer
Actually, you can.
I know, right? It’s Coachella! If they make arrests for public intoxication, then why isn’t everyone arrested? It’s not as simple as just being wasted. If you can get drunk and keep your limbs, mouth, and other body parts to yourself, you’ll probably be fine. But if you’re the type to get a little handsy with the girl in front of you or want to fight someone for fun, you might be in trouble. Equally troubling is driving while intoxicated, or if it’s evident that you’re on something illegal. I’ll explain.
Public Intoxication: Alcohol
First, let’s get this out of the way. If you’re a minor, you’re done. If you’re sloshed, hammered, messed up, or even just a little buzzed in any way then here’s a misdemeanor for you, complete with community service or a fine.
If you’re of age and looking to get blitzed, proceed with caution. California Penal Code 647(f) states that if your drunkenness makes you a danger to yourself or others or you have be babysat, you’re too drunk to be in public. You can also be arrested for getting in the way, so stay off busy sidewalks, public entrances, streets, and so on unless you want up to six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. And speaking of streets, never, under any circumstances, drive if you’ve been drinking. Seriously. It’s not ever worth killing yourself or someone else, even though that tofu burrito bowl from that hole-in-the-wall joint down the street sounds so damn good right now. Even if you blow under .08, you can still get arrested if the cops think you’re driving under the influence. You’re at Coachella. You’re probably under the influence.
Public Intoxication: Drugs
This is where it gets tricky. A lot of people don’t know what I’m about to tell you. You’re welcome! You can be charged with a misdemeanor under California Health and Safety Code 11550 if you’re under the influence of drugs or narcotics in public. That carries a hefty penalty of up to five years on probation, one year in county jail, or drug counseling. You won’t be slapped with the max for a first offense, but it does get worse every time.
Moral of the story is this: Have fun and let loose, but use your common sense.
If you get arrested at Coachella, contact Attorney Jerod Gunsberg for a free consultation at (310) 210-0744 or via this confidential contact form.