Oregon Public Intoxication Laws

Oregon treats public intoxication as a public heath issue, not a crime.

By | Updated by Rebecca Pirius, Attorney

Oregon has no laws prohibiting public intoxication. Instead, public intoxication falls under the area of public health.

Is Public Intoxication Illegal in Oregon?

No. Oregon treats public intoxication as a public health issue, not a crime. State law even prohibits cities and local governments from enacting laws that would make public intoxication, public drinking, or drunk and disorderly conduct a crime or civil infraction. However, localities may enact laws that regulate where individuals may or may not consume alcoholic beverages. For example, a local government may ban or limit drinking in certain places like public beaches or parks.

These provisions don't impact Oregon's drinking-and-driving laws. Drinking alcohol while in a vehicle that's on the highway is a Class B traffic violation, as is having an accessible open container of alcohol in a vehicle. And, of course, driving under the influence is a crime.

(Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 430.402; 811.170 (2022).)

Can Police Take an Intoxicated Person in Protective Custody?

Yes. A police officer may take or send a person who is intoxicated in a public place to the person's home or to a treatment (or sobering) facility.

A police officer must take an intoxicated person to a treatment facility if:

  • the person is incapacitated (unable to make rational decisions about the person's need for treatment)
  • the person's health appears to be in danger, or
  • the officer has reason to believe the person is dangerous to him or herself or others.

If taken to a sobering or treatment facility, the person must be released from protective custody within 24 hours (sobering facility) or 48 hours (treatment center), unless the person voluntarily admitted themself.

If no treatment center is available, a person who is drunk or under the influence of drugs may be taken to jail until the person is no longer intoxicated, incapacitated, or under the influence. However, if an intoxicated person needs medical attention, police must take the person to the nearest medical facility.

For example, if a police officer found a young person drunk, vomiting, and unable to walk, the officer would have to take the person to a treatment center if one was available. The officer could take the person to jail only if no treatment facility was available, and if the person did not need medical attention. (Or. Rev. Stat. § 430.399 (2022).)

Obtaining Legal Assistance

If you are charged with a crime involving alcohol or drugs in Oregon, you should talk to a criminal defense attorney. An attorney can help you navigate the criminal legal system and protect your rights.

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