• Ann Sheeley

"Arrest Me, I'm Irish" – Disorderly Conduct & Other Common Arrests on St. Patrick’s Day

Updated: Mar 11

Know the Laws in Rhode Island and Avoid Being Arrested


St. Patrick’s Day is around the corner and if your shenanigans involve partying and binge drinking, you are not alone. With the return of the Newport St. Paddy’s Parade after a two-year hiatus and other big celebrations planned all throughout Rhode Island, officials are expecting large crowds and their fair share of unruly patrons committing illegal acts. To give you some perspective, in 2019, when the Parade was last held, Newport police made 64 arrests. The year prior, 85 arrests were clocked in Newport alone on parade day. In addition to Driving Under the Influence (DUI), which is always at the top of the list for number of arrests, there are several other common crimes that lead to numerous arrests during the days-long festivities.


From all of us at Sheeley Law, we urge you not to push your luck this St. Patrick’s Day. We’ve written this blog to help you understand Rhode Island’s laws and avoid being arrested. Below are a few of the top non-driving violations and their potential legal consequences:

St Patricks Day & Disorderly Conduct
Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly conduct is a catch-all charge for disruptive behavior and very broadly defined by R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-45-1. Many types of behavior can lead to a disorderly conduct charge but the most common include:

  • Fighting, threatening, or displaying violent behavior, which does not rise to the level of physical assault;

  • Making loud and unreasonable noise in a public place or near a private residence;

  • Using offensive language intended to provoke a violent reaction.

In Rhode Island, a disorderly conduct charge is a misdemeanor criminal offense, which carries a maximum sentence of six months imprisonment and/or up to a $500 fine. Most first offense disorderly conduct cases will not result in the maximum sentence. However, a conviction will be on your criminal record, you may have to pay fines and court costs, and you could be required to undergo counseling (substance abuse, mental health, anger management) and perform community service.


Public Intoxication

Public intoxication, also referred to as “drunk and disorderly conduct,” is an arrestable charge given to a person that is visibly drunk or under the influence of drugs in public and is either 1) causing a public disturbance; 2) displaying behavior that is harmful or dangerous to themselves or others, and/or 3) is considered a threat to the well-being of themselves or others.


If you are arrested for public intoxication, you may spend the day/night in jail under “protective custody” or you may be transported to a hospital for emergency medical treatment. If you are convicted, it is typically a misdemeanor criminal offense that may result in fines and enrollment in an alcohol/drug treatment program.


Open Container Violation

It is against the law for any person to consume an alcoholic beverage, or to have in his or her possession an open container, on any public street, sidewalk or park in most cities and towns in Rhode Island. There are a few exceptions. For instance, there are specific "zones" in downtown Providence where the city relaxes the open container laws for certain nights and events, like Waterfire.


It is also illegal to have an open container in your vehicle. If you are over the age of 21 years, you may transport alcohol but only if the container has its original seal. An open container violation is a traffic infraction in Rhode Island. A conviction will result in a maximum fine of $200 and a driver's license suspension of up to six months. However, subsequent convictions can result in maximum fines of $500 and a driver's license suspension of up to one year.


While it may appear that everyone is drinking in the streets on St. Patrick’s Day and especially during the parade, open container laws are enforced. If you are brazen enough to blatantly drink alcohol out of a bottle or can in a public space or in a vehicle, you are at a high risk of getting arrested and charged with a misdemeanor crime.


Possession of Alcohol By A Minor

According to R.I. Gen. Laws § 3-8-11.1, “possession of beverage by underage persons” also known as “possession of alcohol by a minor,” which is anyone under the age of 21, is a misdemeanor criminal offense. Police will be out in force on St. Patrick’s Day, conducting stings targeting underage drinking at parties and bars, and alcohol sales to minors.


If you are charged with possession of alcohol by a minor, you may face a fine of up to $1,000. A judge may also require you to perform 30 hours of community service and suspend your driver’s license for 60-days. Additional penalties could also include court-mandated substance abuse counseling.


In Closing...

From all of us at Sheeley Law, we want you to have a fun and safe St. Patrick’s Day. If you violate any of the laws mentioned above, and especially if you get caught driving under influence of alcohol or drugs, you will need more than the luck of the Irish to keep you out of jail. It is strongly advised that you contact Sheeley Law.


Rhode Island Criminal Defense Attorney Ann Sheeley will help you navigate the legal system, protect your rights, and develop a strategy to minimize your punishment. We are available 24/7 by calling 401-619-5555 or emailing asheeley@sheeleylaw.com.


Erin go Bragh!.