Public Drunkenness Law – Pennsylvania



The Pennsylvania statute makes it an offense for a person to appear in any public place manifestly under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance to the degree that the person may endanger himself/herself or other persons or property or annoy persons in the vicinity. Controlled substances include narcotics and other drugs as defined in the Pennsylvania Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act. This offense is often coupled with other alcohol related charges including underage drinking or disorderly conduct.


Public drunkenness is a summary offense.


A person who is convicted of public drunkenness be sentenced up to 90 days in jail and a fine of not more than $500.00 for the first violation and not more than $1,000.00 for the second and each subsequent violation.


Our criminal lawyers will review the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident. The public drunkenness law requires the incident to occur in a public place. When the incident occurs in a place that is not considered a public place under the law, the Commonwealth will not get a conviction. Also, the Commonwealth must not only prove “drunkenness”, but the Commonwealth must prove the element of “endanger” or “annoyance”. As such, merely staggering a bit outside of a club or bar without testimony from the officer that the person was a danger to himself or others or that the person was an annoyance, would not lead to a conviction.


Our representation includes preparing for and appearing at your summary trial and either trying the case or working out an alternative resolution with the cooperation of the arresting officer and the Judge assigned to your case. Our first priority is to get your charges dismissed since more than 80% of employers now run criminal background checks. A conviction for public drunkenness may appear on your criminal record, which can hurt your chances of a promotion or being hired.

Hiring a lawyer who advocates for you will show the officer and the Judge that you are taking this matter seriously and it will increase your chances of a successful outcome. Our lawyers believe that one isolated incident of failure to enjoy yourself responsibly should not bar you from education and professional opportunities for years to come. Contact The Martin Law Firm, P.C. today at 215-687-4053.