Profane swearing and intoxication in public; penalty; transportation of public inebriates to detoxification center.

If any person profanely curses or swears or is intoxicated in public, whether such intoxication results from alcohol, narcotic drug or other intoxicant or drug of whatever nature, he shall be deemed guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. In any area in which there is located a court-approved detoxification center a law-enforcement officer may authorize the transportation, by police or otherwise, of public inebriates to such detoxification center in lieu of arrest; however, no person shall be involuntarily detained in such center.


Public intoxication is classified as a Class 4 Misdemeanor in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Class 4 misdemeanors carry a punishment of a fine up to $250.00.  

In order to be found guilty of public intoxication, the Commonwealth must prove that the event occurred in a “public place” and that one was “intoxicated.”  Typically, the most important piece of information that must be decided is whether the law enforcement officer is able to articulately explain the behavior that an individual displayed.  With this charge it is critical to note that the outward appearance is not relevant as much as the behavior that was exhibited at the time of the offense.

On a first time violation for this particular charge, one may be eligible for a deferred finding or a suspended imposition of a sentence (SIS).  Essentially, one would enter a plea of guilty, but the court would suspend any conviction for a period of time.  During that period of time, the defendant would have to complete conditions (typically, 24 hours of community service for a public intoxication) and possibly a fine, and would then have their case dismissed.  A deferred finding or SIS does play a factor in immigration proceedings as it does count as a conviction.