Police procedure if you're drunk

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Police procedure if you're drunk

If the police believe you are drunk in a public place they may arrest you and take you into custody at a police station.

You will normally only be kept in custody until the police think you are sober enough to leave – usually around four hours.

While you are in custody, police must check on you regularly to make sure you’re okay and must call for medical help if they think you need it.

Sobering-up centres

If there is a sobering-up centre in the area, the police may release you into the custody of a representative of the centre. You will not be charged with an offence.

As well as providing a safe place for people to sober up, the centres help people with alcohol-related problems. They can refer you to health and other support services.

Being charged

It is up to the police officer to decide whether to charge you with a public drunkenness offence. If they decide not to charge you, you may get a caution or a fine instead.


If you have been charged with a public drunkenness offence you will usually be bailed and allowed to leave the police station, unless you have been charged with other, more serious, offences as well.

Usually you will be given an undertaking of bail form that says you promise to go to court on the date your case is listed.

Get help

Find out how you can get help dealing with police.

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