Being arrested and charged for public intoxication, while not as serious as a DUI charge, can still have severe consequences. Depending on the state or locality, the charge for being drunk in public can be a misdemeanor or even simply an infraction, like a speeding ticket. But, unlike a speeding ticket, a public intoxication charge can result in being arrested and taken into custody by the police.
Typically, a first or second offense will not have severe consequences, unless a person already has a criminal history, or is being charged with many other drunken crimes. However, the facts surrounding the arrest might convince a judge to require some alternative penalties, such as requiring a drug or alcohol treatment program.
Penalties for being convicted of public intoxication will generally include fines and/or community service, and repeat offenders may have to spend a few days behind bars. Depending on the state and locality, the penalties may be harsher or more lenient.