Drinking is a common occurrence both on campus after dark and on Pennsylvania streets. Public intoxication is a crime, but often does not have the same negative consequences as other alcohol-related incidents.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly classifies public drunkenness as a person “in any public place manifestly under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.” The courts have a concern for the safety and well-being of their constituents. A drunk person in public who seems like a danger or annoyance to those around them or a danger to themselves can be arrested.

However, if the charge is by itself, a fine must be paid and the charge goes on the student’s criminal record. A public intoxication charge costs $500 and $1,000 after the first incident. The student can spend at least one night in jail.

According to Community Legal Services of Pennsylvania, a summary offense is akin to a non-traffic citation. While a public drunkenness charge is a criminal offense, it is the most minor below that of a misdemeanor. The charges can be expunged immediately if there was no conviction. Expunging the record means that future employers never even know you had the charge.

Summary offenses can limit the jobs a student qualifies for after college as they do show up on background checks. Expunging these small criminal offenses can help a student have an easier time finding the right job after graduation. Even though the act is minor compared to other alcohol-related or drug-related offenses, the charge can cause some problems later in life.