Code of the District of Columbia

§ 24–604. Public intoxication; confidential records.

(a) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (b) of this section, any person who is intoxicated in public: (1) may be taken or sent to his home or to a public or private health facility; or (2) if not taken or sent to his home or such facility under clause (1) of this subsection, shall be taken to a detoxification center, by the Mayor. Reasonable measures may be taken to ascertain that public transportation used for such purposes shall be paid for by such person in advance. Any intoxicated person may voluntarily come to a detoxification center for medical attention. The medical officer in charge of a detoxification center shall have the authority to determine whether a person shall be admitted to such center as a patient, or whether he should be referred to another health facility. The medical officer in charge of such center shall have the authority to require any person admitted as a patient under this subsection to remain at such center until he is sober and no longer incapacitated, but in any event no longer than 72 hours after his admission as a patient. If the medical officer concludes that such person should receive treatment at a different facility, he shall arrange for such treatment and for transportation to that facility. A detoxification center may provide medical services to a person who is not admitted as a patient. A patient in a detoxification center shall be encouraged to consent to an intensive diagnosis for alcoholism and to treatment at the inpatient and outpatient facilities authorized in § 24-603(a).

(b)(1) Any person who is taken into custody for violating § 25-1001 shall be brought to a detoxification center where he shall either be admitted as a patient or transported by the Mayor to another appropriate medical facility for treatment. The police officer who took such person into custody for violating such section shall leave a violation notice for such person with the medical officer in charge of the detoxification center. After such person is sober and no longer incapacitated, the medical officer in charge of the detoxification center shall detain him as long as is reasonably necessary to conduct a diagnosis for alcoholism. If such person is diagnosed as a chronic alcoholic the medical officer shall, after a review of such person’s record, recommend to the Corporation Counsel whether a criminal charge should be filed against such person for violating such section in order to institute civil commitment proceedings under § 24-607. If such a criminal charge is not filed, no entry relating to such person’s arrest for violating such section shall be made on any arrest or other criminal record. If the Corporation Counsel concludes that a criminal charge should be filed, the medical officer in charge of the detoxification center shall deliver to such person the violation notice that had been left with him. If such person is not diagnosed as a chronic alcoholic the medical officer in charge of the detoxification center shall deliver to him the violation notice that had been left with the medical officer and such person shall, after he is released by the center, be handled as in any other criminal case.

(2) Any person who is taken into custody in the District of Columbia for violating any criminal provision applicable in the District of Columbia (other than such § 25-1001) and who appears to be intoxicated may be taken by the police to a detoxification center where he may be admitted as a patient for an immediate medical evaluation of his condition. As soon as it is determined that he is not in medical danger he shall be handled by the police as in any other criminal case. If his health is in danger, he may be detained either at the detoxification center or at some other appropriate medical facility until the danger has passed, and he shall then be handled as in any other criminal case. Such security conditions shall be maintained as are commensurate with the seriousness of the offense. In appropriate cases where there is no danger to the safety of any person, the police may leave with the medical officer in charge of the detoxification center a violation notice which shall be delivered to such person when he is released from the detoxification center.

(c) The registration and other records of a detoxification center shall remain confidential and may be disclosed only:

(A) To medical personnel for purposes of:

(i) Diagnosis;

(ii) Treatment; or

(iii) Court testimony;

(B) To police personnel for purposes of investigation of criminal offenses and complaints against police action;

(C) To authorized personnel for purposes of pre-sentence reports; or

(D) With the prior written consent of the client, for the purposes of and in accordance with Chapter 2B of Title 7.

(d) The Mayor shall promptly develop, in cooperation with the police, procedures for taking or sending an intoxicated person to a detoxification center, his residence, or a public or private health facility if no criminal charge is brought against such person.


(Aug. 4, 1947, 61 Stat. 745, ch. 472, § 4; Aug. 3, 1968, 82 Stat. 619, Pub. L. 90-452, § 3(a); Mar. 13, 2004, D.C. Law 15-105, § 58, 51 DCR 881; Dec. 4, 2010, D.C. Law 18-273, § 209, 57 DCR 7171.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 24-524.

1973 Ed., § 24-524.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 5-115.03.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 15-105, in subsec. (b), substituted “§ 25-1001” for “§ 25-128” in pars. (1) and (2).

D.C. Law 18-273 rewrote subsec. (c), which had read as follows: “(c) The registration and other records of a detoxification center shall remain confidential, and may be disclosed only to medical personnel for purposes of diagnosis, treatment, and court testimony, to police personnel for purposes of investigation of criminal offenses and complaints against police action, and to authorized personnel for purposes of presentence reports.”

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 209 of Data-Sharing and Information Coordination Emergency Amendment Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-530, August 6, 2010, 57 DCR 8099).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 209 of Data-Sharing and Information Coordination Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-582, October 20, 2010, 57 DCR 10118).

Change in Government

This section originated at a time when local government powers were delegated to a Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia (see Acts Relating to the Establishment of the District of Columbia and its Various Forms of Governmental Organization in Volume 1). Section 401 of Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1967 (see Reorganization Plans in Volume 1) transferred all of the functions of the Board of Commissioners under this section to a single Commissioner. The District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, 87 Stat. 818, § 711 ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.11), abolished the District of Columbia Council and the Office of Commissioner of the District of Columbia. These branches of government were replaced by the Council of the District of Columbia and the Office of Mayor of the District of Columbia, respectively. Accordingly, and also pursuant to § 714(a) of such Act ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.14(a)), appropriate changes in terminology were made in this section.