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Drunk and Disorderly

The offence of being drunk and disorderly is a minor offence

If you are accused of being drunk and disorderly, the Prosecution must prove that:

  • You were drunk,
  • In a public place, and
  • You were behaving in an unruly or offensive way

For this offence, it is necessary that the person is unruly due to alcohol, rather than drugs or another substance.

Being drunk and disorderly is a summary only offence, so it can only be heard in the Magistrates Court. It is also a non-imprisonable offence, which means the maximum penalty that can be imposed is a fine. The Court has no lawful power to impose either a Community Order or prison sentence for this offence.

Often when the police arrest someone for being drunk and disorderly, they keep them in custody overnight to appear before the Magistrates Court the next day. If the offence is admitted, the time spent in custody is considered as a default for the financial penalty that would otherwise be imposed.

As being drunk and disorderly can not carry a prison sentence, it is sometimes difficult to secure Legal Aid to cover the costs of your criminal defence. The Courts take a view that it is not in the interests of justice for a defendant to be represented at public expense unless there is a risk of a custodial sentence. If you deny the offence, you should discuss with a solicitor whether you could be able to claim Legal Aid, or whether you may have to fund your case privately.

If you are accused of being drunk and disorderly, you are entitled to have expert advice from a specialist criminal defence lawyer. Contact us to see if we can help you find the best criminal solicitor for your case.


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Every case is unique, and everybody’s circumstances are different. If you are dealing with any of the offences discussed on this site, and need independent advice or a second opinion, contact us to see if we can help.