A 36-year-old Birmingham police officer has been placed on administrative leave after being arrested and charged with public intoxication.
The officer was at the city jail shortly before 7:30 a.m. when she was arrested. She was off-duty but police wouldn’t say why she was at the jail. The Irondale resident has worked for the department for 3 years.
Public Intoxication (Section 13A-11-10) under Alabama law means a person who "appears in a public place under the influence of alcohol, narcotics or other drugs to the degree that he endangers himself or another person or property, or by boisterous and offensive conduct annoys another person in the vicinity."
It is a violation under Alabama law, which is less than a misdemeanor charge and is typically resolved by paying a fine. However, as this case illustrates, the officer has been placed on leave and her job could be in jeopardy. The public intoxication statue offers a Birmingham defense attorney two prongs of attack.
First, a defendant can contest that they were under the influence. Rarely do police go to the trouble of a breathalyzer examination or field sobriety testing in such cases. As such, the allegations are asserted without proof.
Secondly, a defendant can argue they were no danger to person or property and should not have been deemed reasonably offensive to those in the vicinity.
The truth of the matter is this is just one of those charges you really don’t want to have on your record. If you are a member of law enforcement, a pilot, or a licensed professional, you may face serious career implications. And, for everyone else, it’s one of those charges that denotes sloppiness or questionable decision making.
In many cases, an experienced Birmingham defense attorney can make quick work of such charges. In more challenging cases, pleading to disturbing the peace or other minor charge can help keep an alcohol-related violation off your record.
Alcohol violations among college students are of particular concern because such charges are on the rise. Last fall, the University of Alabama reported 518 students were disciplined for alcohol violations, according to the Birmingham News. Auburn, Ole Miss and the University of Florida combined for another 300 violations.
Keeping criminal charges involving alcohol off a college student’s permanent record can be particularly critical when it comes time to begin his career or enter his studied profession.
Underage drinking charges or underage possession of alcohol are common charges faced by college students. Using or possessing a fake I.D. may also result in arrest. Underage DUI charges in Alabama may also result when a blood alcohol level does not reach the adult threshold of .08. The state’s zero tolerance law — Alabama Code Section 32-5A-191– states no driver under the age of 21 is permitted to operate a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of .02 or above.
The tiered nature of Alabama’s drunk driving law means a second or subsequent arrest carries the real threat of jail time. Getting out of college without a DUI on your record in critical to protecting your freedom and your long-term right to drive. The good news is that a first-offense charge is often the easiest to beat or to successfully get reduced.
Don’t plead until you consult an attorney.
Birmingham police officer arrested for public intoxication, The Birmingham News, July 3, 2012.