In general, public intoxication laws are meant to protect the safety of the intoxicated person and the public. According to the jurisdiction you’re in, public intoxication could fall under “disturbing the peace”, “disorderly conduct”, “disturbing the peace”, or even “drunk and disorderly conduct”.
No matter what it’s qualified as, people are usually charged with public intoxication when a police officer believes that an individual is causing a public disruption while under the influence of alcohol, especially if that individual’s disruptive behavior interferes with other people’s enjoyment of a public area.
If alcohol or drugs is not involved, the individual can still be charged with disorderly conduct. If a person is loitering, fighting, or being very noisy, they can be charged. However, a majority of states have a law that makes it illegal to be intoxicated in public, while others require some sort of accompanying disruptive behavior to charge someone.
In Texas, an officer is not required to perform a breathalyzer or field sobriety test on a suspect, which has lead to some criticism. Critics say that officers use public intoxication charges to target and harass minority groups. Punishments for a public intoxication charge in Texas are Class C misdemeanors that result in fines not to exceed $500, probation, community service, or alcohol education programs. In certain cases, like a second-time offense, someone charged can be sentenced to jail for less than a year.