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Man Sues Mass. for Right to Get Drunk


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Man Sues Mass. for Right to Get Drunk

Jul 8, 10:57 AM (ET)

BOSTON (AP) - A man arrested when police showed up to break up a New Year's Eve party at a friend's house has filed a lawsuit, arguing he had a constitutional right to get drunk on private property as long as he didn't cause a public disturbance.

Eric Laverriere, 25, of Portland, Maine, was taken into protective custody by Waltham police and locked in a cell for nine hours until the effects of the alcohol wore off.

Legal experts said his lawsuit, filed this week in U.S. District Court in Boston, is the first to challenge a state law allowing police to lock up drunk people against their will for their own protection.

Laverriere argues that the Massachusetts Protective Custody Law was written to combat public drunkenness and that the police had no right to use it to take him from a private residence. He also says he had planned to spend the night at his friend's and wasn't going to be driving anywhere.

"One thing people should be able to do is drink in their own house," Laverriere told The Boston Globe. "That's the beauty of the land of the free."

Waltham Deputy Police Chief Paul Juliano declined to comment on the suit on the advice of the city's legal department.

Several lawyers said they believe police have the authority to take inebriated people into custody, but they said it was the first time the law has been challenged on the grounds that one has a constitutional right to get drunk on private property.

The Protective Custody Law, enacted in 1971, replaced a Colonial-era law that made public drunkenness a crime. It authorizes police to hold people against their will for up to 12 hours if they are drunk and a danger to themselves or others.

Attorney Leonard Kesten, who has defended police departments in civil-rights cases, said if officers are investigating a crime or responding to an incident and discover that someone is drunk and posing a danger, they are obligated to take that person into protective custody.

Police have been sued for failing to take people into protective custody who later died from alcohol poisoning or killed others in drunken-driving accidents.

Laverriere said that he drank several beers, but wasn't drunk, when officers arrived at his friend's duplex saying someone had thrown bottles at a passing police cruiser.

When the partygoers denied throwing bottles, Laverriere said, the officers became angry, prompting him to pick up a friend's camera and start videotaping. Laverriere told the Globe that Officer Jorge Orta ripped the camera from his hands and threw him to the floor, injuring his shoulder.

Laverriere said he told police he had been invited to spend the night at the house, but the officers insisted on taking him into protective custody.

One police report says that Laverriere appeared intoxicated and expressed "displeasure" at being told he had to leave the party. He was then taken into custody. The report says he fell to the floor while resisting Orta's efforts to handcuff him.

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Replace the words: Massachusetts Protective Custody Law

with : Patriot act

and you'd hear some screaming...

So "someone" they didnt see threw a bottle at their car.

They went to a noisy apartment and they said no.

A guy started videotaping the cops and he was hauled off to jail for his own good even though he wasnt leaving the private residence???

Then the cops say he was too intoxicated to (stay put) he now had 3 choices:

1. Refuse and get what he got...

2. Go out in public and get what he got and worse

3. Go out in public and get behind the wheel and triple it

Anyone got a 4th option given by the cops?

(my dads a cop.. I normally take their side, so show me where I'm going wrong here?)

What happened to Freedom in Mass????

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Not enough information to determination if the lawsuit is credible or not. It sounds like the party was broken up and people were asked to leave. How drunk was the guy, and I don’t his opinion on the matter. Did they arrest the individual from inside the house? Did the person ever leave the house? I will say that the guy sounds like an ???hole and pissed the police off.

I will add that arresting people to protect them is something the police have to do. If the person has no reasonable way to take care of themselves the cops have to take them to jail. They can't just leave them to choke on their vomit, get hit by a car or other bad scenario. The police just can't get a break.

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What happened to free assembly?

I think there is something about that in the constitution. ;)


The criteria is drunk AND posing a danger to others or themselves. Videotaping constitutes as "posing a danger"? I donno, if the guy can operate a video camera he's not THAT drunk. (assuming he got it working, if he tried and couldn't then...well...he should just shut up! :) ) I just hope they show the video tape in court!


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Originally posted by Fred Jones

They can't just leave them to choke on their vomit, get hit by a car or other bad scenario. The police just can't get a break.

No, they just leave rioters to loot and kill in LA, allow someone to get beat to death in Seattle and let women get sexually assaulted off a parade route in NY.

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Replace the words: Massachusetts Protective Custody Law

My thoughts exactly. People keep ****ing about our erosion of freedom and how the Patriot Act contributes to that. But the real loss of freedom is much smaller in scale and much more likely to lead to greater loss. It's like throwing a Frog into a pot of water and heating it up. It never knows what's happening until it's too late. It's slimy lawyers who have caused this mess. ( not that all lawyers are slimy, so don't get your panties in a wad if you are a lawyer)

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