This article is for general information only and should not be relied on for specific legal advice.  The author will not be held responsible for any action that a person takes as a result of interpretation of the contents of this article.  It is important to seek specific advice from a qualified and experienced lawyer for any legal problem.    

What is Being Intoxicated in a Public Place?

In Queensland, there are a number of legal implications that can flow from being intoxicated in a public place.  You can be deemed to be intoxicated if you appear to be adversely affected by drugs or alcohol with a number of indicators such as slurred speech, inability to walk or stand, inability to have conversation or confusion, bloodshot eyes etc. 

Intoxicated persons can be taken into custody if their behaviour is likely to pose a risk of harm to themselves or other people in the community.  If you are deemed to be intoxicated, by drugs, alcohol or another intoxicating substance Police have the ability to detain and transport you.  

Is being intoxicated in public a crime?

Under Section 390E of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act, 2000 Police are able to detain and transport intoxicated persons to a sober safe centre if they believe you are being a public nuisance or posing a risk to yourself or others.  

An intoxicated person who is admitted to a centre may be detained for up to eight hours. Further, their belongings can be searched, seized and kept in safe custody and the intoxicated person will be required to pay a cost for use of the centre.  An intoxicated person can be released from the safe centre if the staff consider they are no longer intoxicated or if a responsible person takes them to a place of safety. 

The Law for being intoxicated in public

Section 10 of the Summary Offences Act (Qld) states; 

(1) A person must not be intoxicated in a public place. 

(2) In this section— 

“intoxicated” means drunk or otherwise adversely affected by drugs or another intoxicating substance. 

Elements of the Offence: 

It is the duty of the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant has committed the offence.  Every charge has a number of elements that the Prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.  For the charge of Being Intoxicated in a Public Place the Prosecution must prove or demonstrate; 

  • The identification of the offender
  • That intoxication of the offender by drugs, alcohol, or another intoxicating substance
  • The public place 

Maximum Penalty for Being Intoxicated in a Public Place

The maximum penalty for being intoxicated in a public place is a fine of 2 penalty units, the value of penalty units may change. For up-to-date information, you can visit the Queensland Government’s Fines and Penalties information.


In Queensland, if a person is convicted of Being Intoxicated in a Public Place, then the court could impose one of the following penalties:

  • Jail (suspended, parole or actual time);
  • Intensive Corrections Order;
  • Probation;
  • Community Service Order;
  • Fines.

The actual penalty will depend on the circumstances of the matter including the seriousness of the offence and the individual circumstances and background of the Defendant.

Possible Defences:  

There are a number of defences available to charges at law.  Not every defence is available to every charge.  You will need to seek specific legal advice to see if you have a defence available to you for this charge.  Some of the common defences available in criminal charges are;

  • Necessity;
  • Mistake of Fact;
  • Public Safety;
  • Self Defence or defence of another person;
  • Intoxication;
  • Provocation;
  • Accident;
  • Duress;
  • Compulsion;
  • Insanity;
  • Automatism

Which Court will your matter be heard in?

The charge of Being Intoxicated in a Public Place will be heard in the Magistrates Court in Queensland.  The charge will be heard and determined by a Magistrate alone whether you plead guilty or not guilty.  There is no jury in the Magistrates Court.   

What should I do if the police want to speak to me about an Being Intoxicated in a Public Place allegation or if I am charged with Being Intoxicated in a Public Place?

You have the right to remain silent. You DO have to provide police with your name, date of birth and contact details. You should NOT answer any questions, make any statement or participate in any interview with the police. You should be polite to the officer but insist that you want to talk to your lawyer. You have the right to telephone a friend, relative or lawyer. 

Call an Expert

If you are charged with a criminal offence, it is very important that you seek immediate legal advice. Our team at Brooke Winter Solicitors can give you over-the-phone advice. We have a solid reputation as expert Criminal Lawyers and can represent you in court.  

Call us at 1300 066 669, or contact us online if you have any questions. We can assist you no matter where you are located and can appear in every court.