You must be 21 years old to drink alcohol in Tennessee. Consuming controlled drugs or substances is illegal at any age. As a minor, if you get caught for these illegal acts, most likely because you were publicly intoxicated, chances are you may face multiple charges and penalties, depending on the circumstances of your arrest.
Tennessee takes allegations of public intoxication and offenses related to alcohol and controlled substances very seriously. If you or your child has been arrested for such offenses, it is imperative that you discuss your case with Andrew C. Beasley, our Tennessee criminal defense attorney, promptly to mitigate any negative consequences you may face.
Public Intoxication is a Serious Criminal Offense in Tennessee
Under Tennessee law, the offense of public intoxication involves a person who is seemingly under the influence of alcohol or drugs in a public place that is:
- More than likely than not to hurt other people, themselves, or property, or
- Unreasonably annoying or disturbing the people around them.
For instance, if you are having difficulty standing or walking on your own due to intoxication or stumbling around without a care for the people around you, the police may decide that you’re publicly intoxicated and arrest you.
A Public Intoxication Charge for Minors May Come With Additional and More Serious Charges and Penalties
If you have been accused of public intoxication, you may also be accused of drug or underage alcohol-related offenses, which carry steeper penalties because they are more serious crimes. A public intoxication charge is a Class C misdemeanor. Penalties include jail time not exceeding 30 days, drug or alcohol treatment classes, driver’s license suspension, community service for 11 hours, and a fine of up to $50.
Other ways a public intoxication conviction can impact you include penalties from your college, being excluded from getting a professional license in the law enforcement, education, or health care fields, and difficulty getting a decent job. Take note, though, that if a treatment facility is available in the county, the police must offer you the option of getting treatment in lieu of an arrest record.
Additionally, it’s illegal for people under 21 years old to consume, transport, possess, or purchase alcoholic drinks. These offenses are Class A misdemeanors that come with a fine not exceeding $2,500 and imprisonment for 11 months and 29 days. Furthermore, casually exchanging or possessing drugs is also a Class A misdemeanor. Penalties include a fine of not more than $3,000 and imprisonment of one to six years for the greater or second offense.
Reach Out to a Skilled Tennessee Criminal Defense Attorney Now
A public intoxication charge is not something you should take lightly, especially if you are a minor and may also be facing an alcohol or drug-related charge. At Andrew C. Beasley, PLLC, we fully understand that everyone makes mistakes and are prepared to determine the most favorable outcome for your case. You can set up a free case evaluation with our Tennessee criminal defense attorney by completing our online form or dialing 615-437-7002.