Can a Cop Walk into a Bar and Arrest You for Drinking?


Public intoxication laws in the State of Texas are quite the force to be reckoned with.

Police officers have been known to fan out, and go fishing for people to arrest and charge with public intoxication, and many times, seeing criminals through the tunnel vision of racial profiling.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is known to team up with local law enforcement and conduct bar raids which would otherwise be illegal under The Constitution. However, the legality of such catch-22 style law enforcement practices have been loop-holed into an acceptable law enforcement practice as of the passage of a law in the State of Texas as of 1993 which specifically redefined public intoxication.

As defined in the Texas Penal Code Relating to Alcohol Related Crimes;

Sec. 49.02.  PUBLIC INTOXICATION. (a) A person commits an offense if the person appears in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that the person may endanger the person or another.

(a-1)  For the purposes of this section, a premises licensed or permitted under the Alcoholic Beverage Code is a public place.

Under this law, private businesses, like a bar that may serve alcoholic beverages to its patrons, is defined as a public place which gives law enforcement legal jurisdiction and domain to have their way and pick & choose who goes down as a criminal for a public intoxication crime.

Houston Defense Lawyer Jack B. Carroll

Will Fight Your Public Intoxication Charges


A highly experienced criminal defense attorney, other than myself, put it this way, “If you are black or brown you are going down”. I don’t subscribe to racial epithets, but he has a point, and I’d like to add that his point applies, or can be applied, to anyone suspected of public intoxication by law enforcement anywhere in Houston, and Texas.

Cops also have the authority to conduct discretionary public intoxication arrests under the authority of a legal standard for public intoxication that’s so all encompassing, that there’s a law enforcement application for nearly any situation imaginable in which alcohol or any other controlled substance is involved.

To add some illustration to how vast the legal spider web of public intoxication law in Texas can be, lets just say that a police officer can arrest you and put you in jail based on a hunch, with no breathalyzer or field sobriety test.

A Cop Can Walk Into a Bar, Pick You Out, and Arrest You

…For Drinking

Cops have the legal authority to simply walk into a bar and arrest you on the spot for drinking the alcoholic beverage you may be taking your first sip from. Courts have not only upheld this legal definition, and aforementioned law enforcement practices, but have expanded them. Let it also be noted that discretionary arrests under this legal framework has been used to fish for illegal immigrants.

This particular set of laws, in their current form, are not under attack, and no one cares about how public intoxication laws in Texas are abused.

If you are dealing with a public intoxication charge, need a Houston Lawyer to represent you in the court of law, or you simply need legal advice, call me at 713-228-4607. My name is Jack B. Carroll, a Houston Lawyer specializing in criminal defense.

Can a Cop Walk into a Bar and Arrest You for Drinking?