Public Intoxication is one of the most common criminal charges in the State of Iowa. Unlike some other states, this crime only requires that a person is in public, and is intoxicated. Some other states require the additional element of “disorderly” in order for this type of statute to be enforced, not Iowa.
The definition of “public” in this case is very broadly interpreted, extending even to the shared hallway of an apartment complex. Public is better defined by what it is not: inside a private residence or car.
With “intoxication” there is no magic BAC number, such as 0.08 or above. If an officer has probable cause that you are “intoxicated” or even are “simulating” intoxication, you can be arrested for this crime.
That is the bad news, it is easy to find yourself on the wrong side of the law in regard to this statute.
The good news is that for a first offense, most courts will apply the minimum fine and no additional jail time. Further, the conviction can be expunged and removed from your criminal record.
To qualify for an expungement of a public intoxication conviction, a defendant must avoid all additional convictions for a period of 2 years. Exceptions are made for certain simple misdemeanor traffic offenses. Also note that it is the conviction dates that matter, not the dates of the offenses. After that time period has passed, the defendant can file a Petition to Expunge.
Upon completion, the applicant would no longer have a conviction on their record, and the case would not be viewable on Iowa Courts Online, or at the local courthouse.