Oklahoma Public Intoxication Laws

Oklahoma has very strict liquor laws, and criminalizes public intoxication.

For more information on public intoxication laws generally, see Public Intoxication Laws and Penalties.

Under Oklahoma's laws, it is illegal to drink alcohol in any public place unless the place is licensed to serve or sell alcohol. It is also a crime to sell or furnish alcohol to a person who is intoxicated.

(Okla. Stat. tit. 37, § 537.)

In Oklahoma, a person commits a crime by:

  • consuming alcohol (or any other intoxicating substance) in a vehicle or public place (unless the person is permitted to do so under liquor licensing laws)
  • being drunk or intoxicated on any road, in a public place, or at a public gathering, or
  • being drunk and disturbing the peace.

(Okla. Stat. tit. 37, § 8; City of Norman v. Taylor, 189 P.3d 726 (2008).)

For example, a person who is intoxicated and is a passenger in a car can be arrested and convicted of public intoxication, as could a drunken customer in a bar who was annoying other patrons.

Protective Custody

A police officer may take a person who is intoxicated in a public place to the person's home or a treatment facility. A police officer can take an intoxicated person into protective custody onlywith the person's consent.

A person in protective custody is not under arrest or charged with a crime. However, because public intoxication is a crime in Oklahoma, a police officer may still arrest an intoxicated person and take the person to jail if:

  • there is no treatment facility available, or
  • the person does not consent to go to a treatment facility.

(Okla. Stat. tit. 43A, § 3-428.)

Unconscious or Dangerous

A police officer may take an intoxicated person who is in a public place and unconscious or appears to be a danger to him or herself or others to a treatment facility.

An officer does not need the consent of a person who is intoxicated or dangerous to take the person into protective custody.

People held in protective custody because they are unconscious or dangerous must be released after regaining consciousness or when they no longer pose a danger to anyone. If the person remains unconscious or dangerous after 12 hours, police must obtain the person's consent to remain in protective custody or file a petition for civil commitment.

(Okla. Stat. tit. 43A, § 3-428.)


Public intoxication is punishable by five to 30 days in jail, a fine of $100 to $1,000, or both.

(Okla. Stat. tit. 37, § 8.)

Obtaining Legal Advice and Counsel

A criminal conviction can have serious consequences, including time in jail, a fine, and a criminal record. If you are charged with public intoxication, you should contact an Oklahoma criminal defense attorney. An attorney can tell you how your case is likely to be treated in court and help you navigate the criminal justice system so that you can obtain the best possible outcome in your case.

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