Criminal Law

2966. Disorderly Conduct: Under the Influence in Public

The defendant is charged [in Count ______] with being under the influence of (alcohol/ [and/or] a drug) in public.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

1. The defendant was willfully under the influence of (alcohol[,]/ [and/or] a drug[,]/ [and/or] a controlled substance[,]/ [and/or] toluene);

2. When the defendant was under the influence, (he/she) was in a public place;


<Alternative 3A—unable to care for self>

[3. The defendant was unable to exercise care for (his/her) own safety [or the safety of others].]

<Alternative 3B—obstructed public way>

[3. Because the defendant was under the influence, (he/she) interfered with, obstructed, or prevented the free use of a street, sidewalk, or other public way.]

Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose.

As used here, a public place is a place that is open and accessible to anyone who wishes to go there.

Bench Notes

Instructional Duty

The court has a sua sponte duty to give this instruction defining the elements of the crime.


Elements. Pen. Code, § 647(f).

Public Place Defined. In re Zorn (1963) 59 Cal.2d 650, 652 [30 Cal.Rptr. 811, 381 P.2d 635]; People v. Belanger (1966) 243 Cal.App.2d 654, 657 [52 Cal.Rptr. 660]; People v. Perez (1976) 64 Cal.App.3d 297, 300-301 [134 Cal.Rptr. 338].

Statute Constitutional. Sundance v. Municipal Court (1986) 42 Cal.3d 1101, 1119-1121 [232 Cal.Rptr. 814, 729 P.2d 80]; In re Joseph G. (1970) 7 Cal.App.3d 695, 703-704 [87 Cal.Rptr. 25]; In re Spinks (1967) 253 Cal.App.2d 748, 752 [61 Cal.Rptr. 743].

Secondary Sources

2 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000) Crimes Against Public Peace and Welfare, §§ 55-58.

6 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 144, Crimes Against Order, § 144.20 (Matthew Bender).

Related Issues

Defendant in Parked Car

In People v. Belanger (1966) 243 Cal.App.2d 654, 657 [52 Cal.Rptr. 660], the court held that the defendant was in a public place when he was found sitting in a parked car on a public street.

(New January 2006)