Persons Found Drunk and Disorderly

Persons Found Drunk and Disorderly

This charge is generally laid in situations where a person is found to be drunk and disorderly in a public place.
Drunk and Disorderly
The offence of Persons Found Drunk and Disorderly is a summary offence heard in the Magistrates’ Court.
What is the legal definition of Persons Found Drunk and Disorderly?
The Summary Offences Act defines ‘public place’ as –

A public road, street, passage, footpath or alley,
Any park, garden, reserve or other place of public recreation or resort,
Railway station platform or carriage,
Any wharf pier or jetty,
Any passenger ship,
Any public vehicle for hire,
Any church,
Government school,
Any public hall or theatre,
Any market,
Any auction room,
Any licensed premises, or
Any public sporting field.

The legislation for this offence can be found on section 14 of Summary Offences Act 1966.

Examples of Persons Found Drunk and Disorderly
  • A person found drunk in the city
  • A person found drunk in the MCG
  • A person found drunk in a shopping centre
Elements of the offence
In essence to prove this charge the Police must show that the accused was drunk and whilst drunk behaved in a disorderly manner in a public place.

“Can the Police prove you were drunk?”

Defences to this could be duress, a factual dispute, the concept of beyond reasonable doubt, honest and reasonable mistake of belief, wrongful identification, lack of intent, or mental impairment.

You should call us to discuss your case with one of our experienced lawyers. Deciding on whether to plead guilty or not has important implications for you and should be made after proper discussions with a criminal lawyer.

Questions in cases like this
  • Were you in a public place?
  • Were you drunk?

There is a maximum penalty of 20 penalty units or 3 days imprisonment for anyone found guilty of Persons Found Drunk and Disorderly (s14 of the Summary Offences Act 1966) as a first offence, and 20 penalty units or 1 month imprisonment for a second or subsequent offence.

Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts
From 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2016, there were 704 cases (742 charges) of Persons Found Drunk and Disorderly that were heard in the Victoria’s Magistrates’ Courts. Majority of these cases resulted in financial penalties (34.4%) but there were also many others that received other forms of sentencing: Community Correction Order (23.3%), adjourned undertaking/discharge/dismissal (23.0%), imprisonment (16.5%), wholly suspended sentence (1.9%), partially suspended sentence (0.6%), and Youth Justice Centre Order (0.4%).

The highest amount of aggregate fine imposed was between $3,000 and $4,000 but this was also the least frequently imposed at 0.9% of those who were fined. The majority received a fine somewhere between $500 and $1,000 (41.5% for aggregate) and less than $500 (6.8% for non-aggregate).1

Please note that suspended sentences were abolished in Victoria for all offences committed on or after 1 September 2014.2

[1] SAC Statistics – Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic) : s 14 – persons found drunk and disorderly < >
[2] Suspended Sentence | The Sentencing Advisory Council < >