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Drinking is a common habit amongst adults all over the world. Whether they do so to enjoy their time and have fun, or to drown their sorrows, alcohol is widely consumed in most parts of the world. Consumption of alcohol beyond a certain level can lead to being drunk which can affect your senses by depressing the nervous system. Being drunk can cause you to act in a disorderly manner which might get out in trouble with the police. 

There are laws in place within the UK to ensure that no obscenity or harm is caused to the public by a drunk person. In this article we will first look at what exactly being drunk and disorderly is, and will then consider the relevant laws.  

A person who is ‘Drunk and Disorderly’, is described, precisely, as a person who, when under the influence of alcohol, behaves in a disorderly manner in any public area. This implies the police have the authority to arrest you if they believe you are causing a public disturbance while inebriated, which they can assess at their discretion. If they believe it is essential to safeguard your safety and the safety of others around you, they may do so.

Alcohol enters your system and impacts your brain and body functioning as you drink. When you consume a lot of alcohol, your body and brain functions slow down significantly. Drinking alcohol can make you inebriated, which is linked to sluggishness and/or bad judgement.

Signs of being drunk include loss of coordination or balance, poor judgment, slurred speech or vision changes. There are seven stages of being drunk, ranging from being sober to dying. Everyone reacts differently to alcohol, so an individual’s stages of being drunk may be different.

The Public Order Act of 1986 defines Drunk and Disorderly behaviour as one of the more minor Public Order offences. It is, however, still a criminal offence that can result in a variety of punishments. Here you can discover detailed information on what this offence includes and what you may expect to be charged with if you are found guilty.

The most significant law that deals with Public Intoxication (in the UK) is CJA 1967 s. 91 – Drunk and Disorderly;

Drunk and disorderly is a well-known crime and one of the most often prosecuted in ‘Magistrates’ Courts. It is not of a difficult or complicated nature. As mentioned above, to be declared guilty, you must be inebriated/drunk, in a public area, and be acting in an unruly manner. The crime has no specific legal meaning. The terms are given their normal, everyday meanings.

In each situation, whether or whether the defendant is inebriated is a matter of fact and varies from case to case. There is no medical definition of drunkenness that can be used. The threshold for being declared as ‘drunk’ is low, as case law shows: you can be judged intoxicated merely because alcohol has damaged your steady self-control. Alcohol does not have to be the primary cause of a lack of self-control.

In the same way, disorderly behaviour must be given its natural and ordinary meaning. It might include things like yelling, fighting, and threatening conduct, among other things. It has to happen while you’re drunk. The prosecution does not have to show that you were attempting to provoke a commotion on purpose.

Again, under the law, the term “public space” has no precise or definite legal meaning. It simply refers to any location where the general public has access, whether or not a fee is charged. The sort of public space might be an important consideration in the phrase.

The crime is most commonly committed at pubs and nightclubs. The bouncers could call the cops in any such instance. The police may also arrest you based on their own observations. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, you will typically be issued a fixed penalty (£90) that can be paid within 21 days. Alternatively, you can go to court and dispute the accusation.

The majority of defences are factual – that is, you can show that there is a reasonable doubt as to whether you were acting in a disruptive manner or if you were drunk. (There would be very few instances where being in a public area would be a problem.) The magistrates’ courts, on the other hand, are not recognised for being receptive to defendants’ explanations. They are more likely to believe a police officer’s testimony than a defendant’s.

A fine of up to £1000 can be imposed if you are found guilty of being drunk and disorderly in a magistrates’ court. The amount of the fine is primarily determined on how drunk and disorderly you were. On the one hand, yelling or making a minor commotion is on the lowest end of the scale. You may only obtain a conditional discharge if you do not have a prior criminal record, there are mitigating circumstances, and you are well-represented. If you do not, you might face a fine of up to 50% of your weekly salary. On the other hand, producing a significant discharge might result in a fine of 100% of your weekly salary.

On the other hand, causing a significant discharge might result in a fine of 100% of your weekly salary. If aggravating circumstances exist, such as causing a disturbance in a public location when young or vulnerable members of the public are present, the fine might be increased to 150 percent of your weekly earnings. The fine is always limited to the £1,000 indicated before. The criminal record that follows may be of more significance.

Many more specific offences exist, such as operating a motor vehicle while inebriated (or being found ‘drunk in charge’) or riding a bicycle while inebriated. Furthermore, the police have the authority (but not the responsibility) to seize any alcohol drank in public by people under the age of 18, and municipal governments have the authority to restrict alcohol use in certain locations.

When convicted for Drunk and disorderly behaviour, a number of punishments can result which can have some grave legal consequences. Some of these can be imposed without the need to charge you or take you to court. They include:

  • a warning from the authorities (known as an official caution)
  • A fine can/is imposed on the spot (known as fixed penalty notice).
  • A fine can/is imposed on the spot (known as fixed penalty notice).

In the instance where you are taken to court by the police, you might face a variety of additional, more severe punishments. One or more of the following are examples:

  • A conditional release/discharge
  • A potential penalty as high as £1,000 is possible.
  • An ASBO ‘restraining’ order (Anti-social behaviour order).
  • A DBO  (Drinking banning order). 

Unfortunately, even if you get a qualifying benefit, you will not typically be eligible for Legal Aid in Court if you are charged with a drunk and disorderly offence. If you are ready to pay for a solicitor, you can request one to appear on your behalf during the proceedings. If you believe your employment may be jeopardised if you are found guilty in court, it is of utmost importance that one should consult an attorney.

If any person’s behaviour (not only intoxicated behaviour) is perceived as anti-social, anybody over the age of ten can receive an ASBO. You will be prohibited from performing specific activities if you receive an ASBO, including:

  • Visiting particular areas, such as the local town centre
  • Drinking on the street and hanging out with those who have a reputation for being problematic.

An ASBO is in place for a minimum of two years and can continue indefinitely, although it can be lifted if you behave well. You will be hauled to court and sentenced if you do not follow the requirements of your ASBO and/or continue to show drunk and disorderly behaviour. One or all of the following penalties may be imposed:

  • A potential fine of up to £5,000 and/or
  • Up to 5 years in jail

If you breach the law or cause difficulties while under the influence of alcohol, you may receive a DBO. Unlike an ASBO, you must be 16 years of age or older to get one. For example, the following are some of the grounds for receiving this banning order:

  • Behaviour that is antisocial
  • Vandalism
  • Threatening language and actions
  • Urinating in public

Concisely, you will be prohibited from performing specific activities if you obtain a DBO. Here are several examples:

  • Purchasing alcoholic beverages
  • Having or consuming alcohol in a public place as it is illegal.
  • Getting into certain alcohol-serving facilities



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