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Can the TSA arrest me for being drunk?

On Behalf of | Sep 20, 2022 | DUI Charges

For anyone who has flown recently, you know it can be stressful, especially when you are stuck on a long layover or coming back to the airport after your original flight was cancelled. As such, you can hardly be blamed for having a drink or two during your layover or prior to coming back to the airport. However, if you had one too many drinks, can a Transportation Security Administration officer arrest you?

What do TSA officers do?

TSA officers operate at airports and only airports. They are empowered to conduct screenings of people, baggage and cargo. This means that when you enter the airport, you can be searched by a TSA officer, along with your bags, both on your person and checked bags.

Do TSA officers have the power to arrest?

TSA officers are not law enforcement. This means that if they find something on your person or in your bags, they cannot arrest you. They can simply detain you until a law enforcement officer arrives. However, most airports have airport police who are usually, stationed with the TSA agents. It is these law enforcement officers who can issue citations and make arrests?

What if I had too much to drink?

Since the TSA does not conduct alcohol testing, you may get past the TSA, even if you are drunk. However, if you are visibly inebriated, the airport police could arrest or cite you for public intoxication. Alternatively, even if you make it past the TSA and airport police, airport personnel may deny you entry onto the flight.

If no one stops you and you then board the plane, you could still face consequences, depending on your actions. If you fail to follow the flight attendants’ directions, cause a disruption or cause a scene, you could be arrested when you land for those actions, in addition to those related to public drunkenness. And, remember, depending on where you land, you could even face those public drunkenness charges when your BAC is below 0.08%, the traditional level of legal drunkenness.

What can I do?

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, residents who find themselves in these situations need to craft their criminal defense immediately. While a public drunkenness charge may not seem like a big deal, it could cause issues with professional licensing, reduce your employment and educational opportunities and cost you a lot of money in fines.