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Christina Aguilera’s early morning arrest was the talk of the town Tuesday, but it also had club-crawling locals wondering: Can someone really get arrested for being drunk in the passenger seat?
Attorney Allison Margolin
of Los Angeles’ Margolin Law Office tells THR
it’s not something she’s ever experienced in her near decade of practice. “I’ve never in my career heard of someone prosecuted while just being a passenger,” Margolin says.
Aguilera, 30, was booked for violating California Penal Code 647(f), which, Margolin explains, “is the code for public intoxication. It’s when someone is too intoxicated to take care of oneself and if they’re also in a public space. It’s debatable if being a passenger in a car would qualify as being in a ‘public space’.” To put it simply, Margolin adds, “She was thrown into the drunk tank.”
In such circumstances, a person can be placed under “civil protective custody,” says Margolin, “which allows the police to detain the person for being under the influence for up to 72 hours.”
So what happens next? “If they did decide to press charges, she could either be charged with an infraction, which would carry a fine, or with a misdemeanor, which could carry jail time... but they’ve decided not to take it to the City Attorney," says Margolin. "She could argue the issue, but it’s generally a minor offense.”