Can Airport Police Stop You for a DUI or Publix Intoxication After Drinking on a Flight?

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you indulged in a few drinks on a flight and then faced the possibility of being stopped by airport police for driving under the influence (DUI) or public intoxication upon landing?  


This scenario may seem like an unlikely predicament, but it raises important legal questions that deserve attention. Our attorneys at Stechschulte Nell Law discuss your rights when it comes to post-flight intoxication encounters with law enforcement. 



The Implications of Being Drunk on an Airplane 


While it’s tempting to indulge in the excitement of travel with a few drinks, being intoxicated on a flight could lead to legal consequences such as public intoxication charges or even a DUI if you try to drive upon arrival.  


If you engage in any of the following while in an airplane as a passenger, you will be breaking federal law: 


  • Interfering with a flight attendant or crew member as they are carrying out their duties 
  • Attacking or threatening a flight attendant or member of the flight crew  
  • Significantly impairing a flight attendant’s or crew member’s capacity to carry out their duties 


It’s important to note that behaviors that may qualify as interfering are broad. For instance, disobeying orders or declining to sit down when requested might be construed as interfering with a flight attendant or crew member. IMpeding a flight attendant’s path, shouting at them, or any physical contact made to cause harm or in a threatening manner is considered assault or threat to a crew member.  


You may be wondering how this pertains to drinking on an airplane. Well, if you think of the above situations in the context of being intoxicated, you may realize that you could interfere with a crew member’s duties by being unruly or causing a scene due to being under the influence of alcohol. 


Federal Jurisdiction 


As soon as passengers are boarded and all external doors to the aircraft are closed, federal jurisdiction takes effect. It will stay in effect until the passengers disembark through an exterior door, or if the plane lands. 


If you are deemed to be interfering with an airplane’s crew while under the influence of alcohol, you might be fined up to $250,000 and imprisoned for up to 20 years. The majority of infractions carry fines between $25,000 and $35,000. 


DUI at an Airport  


When traveling by plane, it is important to note that different states may have varying penalties for public intoxication or DUI offenses. Federal code will defer to state law if that specific state has more restrictive limits on BAC levels for DUI.  


Airport police or any law enforcement in an airport can arrest  you for a DUI after drinking on a flight if you violate any laws.  


Remember, airport police aren’t there to act as “alcohol police”, but rather to ensure safety and maintain order within the airport vicinity. So, why would they stop you after drinking on a flight? It goes beyond simple alcohol consumption. In most cases, they intervene only when you exhibit disruptive or unsafe behavior that could potentially endanger yourself or those around you in the airport.  

And if you get behind the wheel of a vehicle and drive after drinking on a flight, understand that there may be consequences. Remember, a DUI in most jurisdictions also applies to operating non-motor vehicles, such as bicycles, scooters, and even wheelchairs when under the influence. 


Public Intoxication 

The potential consequences of public intoxication at an airport can include: 


  • Being denied boarding 
  • Being escorted out by security 
  • Facing legal charges 


While airports may have bars and restaurants where alcohol is served, there are strict regulations regarding public intoxication to maintain safety and security for all travelers.  


Take note of the following:  


  • Public intoxication laws vary from state to state. Some states consider it a criminal offense to be drunk in public spaces. 
  • If you’re too intoxicated to the point of causing public disturbances or being unable to take care of yourself, you could face charges. 


If you find yourself charged with a DUI or public intoxication after drinking on a flight, it’s essential to seek legal counsel immediately. Laws can vary from state to state, and being charged in connection with air travel presents unique challenges. Working with a skilled attorney like Ben Stechschulte is crucial for building a strong defense. 


Read More > Zero Tolerance for Airplane Disorderly Conduct  


We Are on Your Side  


Being charged with a DUI or disorderly conduct after drinking on a flight can have serious legal consequences and requires specialized legal counsel. At Stechschulte Nell Law, our experienced defense lawyers understand the complexities of these cases involving air travel and are committed to providing comprehensive case reviews for individuals in need of legal representation.  


If you or someone you know is facing a charge related to drinking on a flight, don’t hesitate to contact us for a case review. Your future is too important to leave to chance. Contact us today at 813-280-1244 for the legal support you need. 

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