Drinking Is Not A Crime
July 8, 2005 12:24 PM   Subscribe

Drunk sues for right to drink. So, a guy gets arrested for being drunk. At a private party. One wonders what the Founding Fathers would think.
posted by _sirmissalot_ (39 comments total)
I'd like to see the videotape. It seems like that if this story is true than, yes, we have the right to drink and the police acted outside of the domain of the particular law they were enforcing. It's hard to say if the law is unconstitutional though, there is a need to detain people who are drunk enough to be a danger to themselves or others. Often people detained for this reason are not charged for any crime, but held until they sober up. That being said, if there is a problem here it's on the enforcement side. As the article stated the police have been sued for not detaining drunk people - it seems that the law needs clarifying and it should be determined if this situation should have been addressed differently.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:43 PM on July 8, 2005

Holy crap, that's my town. Places to eat and drink in Waltham, MA:

1) Anna's on Main Street has some of the best pizza north of NY.
2) Tuscan Grill on Moody Street is the place to take your lady or dude.
3) Joe Sent Me is the place to watch the World Series.
4) My apartment has an escape staircase in the back, so you can stop by my place if you want to get sauced.

Apparently you go to the first town west of Boston and you might as well have gone to Utah.
posted by VulcanMike at 12:45 PM on July 8, 2005

Actualy, he claims he was not drunk, and the police didn't breathalize him.

In fact, from the article it's clear that the cops only arrested him "for his protection" because he pissed them off by videotaping him. That's pretty fucked up, given that "public intox" isn't even a crime in Mass.

Anyway kids, just remember the golden rule. Don't let the cops in without a warrent.
posted by delmoi at 12:47 PM on July 8, 2005

Benjamin Franklin’s words “Never leave that till tomorrow which you can drink today.

Or was that W.C. Fields, always get them confused.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 12:54 PM on July 8, 2005

Actualy, he claims he was not drunk, and the police didn't breathalize him.

Interesting. I missed that the first reading: there is no reference to a breathalizer test. I wonder if they simply didn't give him one or if he refused to take one. It does seems that if the police are going to detain an intoxicated individual they should have to show they had reason to believe he's drunk - like probable cause.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:00 PM on July 8, 2005

Jorge Orta?!?

Also, "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" isn't a scenario I've heard of before. Does anyone know where this has happened?
posted by sellout at 1:01 PM on July 8, 2005

Laverriere told the Globe that Officer Jorge Orta ripped the camera from his hands and threw him to the floor, injuring his shoulder.

Impressive work, for a 54 year-old light-hitting second baseman.
posted by Kwantsar at 1:02 PM on July 8, 2005

I seriously doubt this will go to trial, the cops didn't have any right to arrest him because its not illegal to videotape cops being assholes.

I love that the cops reported he "fell" while being handcuffed where Eric says they shoved him to the ground and injured his shoulder. Man, perps are always "falling" and hurting themselves and the cops get blamed.
posted by fenriq at 1:03 PM on July 8, 2005

Nice, sellout.

Onix Concepcion could not be reached for comment.
posted by Kwantsar at 1:06 PM on July 8, 2005

First off, Joe Sent Me in Waltham sucks. Go to the one in Cambridge.

Secondly, videotaping or photographing the police while they're executing their duties and you're inebriated and full of Bill of Rights is going to lead to a situation where you're going to be molested by the officers. I know this from personal experience. Unless three or more of your friends have a similar device, I would refrain from displaying it.

Thirdly, last time I checked, the cops don't go around to house parties for no apparent reason, arresting drunk people.

And last but not least, grab your SoLo cup and hide in a closet like everyone else does.
posted by jsavimbi at 1:07 PM on July 8, 2005

It's hard to know what to think about this.

It seems plausible that either side's story could be correct. I don't know which party is lying. I'm inclined to believe the supposed drunk, but who knows.

Of course, it's not surprising that cops will get touchy if you start to video tape them. But any reaction they have to that better be within the law (which is to say, they can't do much about it unless they were arresting you anyway). If they decide to arrest you because you started video taping them, and then trump something up, they deserve to be fired. Cops should never be given the chance to abuse their authority more than once, in my perfect world. And making up charges because they are pissed off is something akin to perjury, to me, and should get them booted.

But who knows if that's what actually happened.
posted by teece at 1:13 PM on July 8, 2005

Where the F is "Joe Sent Me" in Cambridge? I always end up at that new Tavern place in central square (and the good life before it, actually) to watch sports and it su-UCKS.
posted by rkent at 1:17 PM on July 8, 2005

Out on Mass Ave near the Arlington line, I think.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 1:22 PM on July 8, 2005

Joe Sent Me is on Mass Av in north cambridge, near the greek corner. North of Ringe. Personally I like the Waltham one.
posted by adzuki at 1:22 PM on July 8, 2005

btw, definitely try Joe's deep fried pickles ... very cool.
posted by adzuki at 1:23 PM on July 8, 2005

There are directions at www.joe-sent-me.com.
posted by hilker at 1:23 PM on July 8, 2005

Joe Sent Me, Cambridge
posted by jsavimbi at 1:27 PM on July 8, 2005

Hmmm, I was living in Waltham around that time, too. So if this guy was arrested, how come he doesn't show up in Waltham's arrest log for 1/1/2005?
posted by justkevin at 1:31 PM on July 8, 2005

Because he wasn't arrested, he was detained.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:38 PM on July 8, 2005

Hmmm, I was living in Waltham around that time, too. So if this guy was arrested, how come he doesn't show up in Waltham's arrest log for 1/1/2005?
"Attorney Timothy Burke of Needham, who represents the Massachusetts State Police and about 30 other police departments, said police had a right to enter the home to investigate the bottle-tossing incident. In most cases, Burke said, police take people into protective custody whom they could arrest for disorderly conduct, trespassing, or some other charge.

'More often it's used to give a person a break and not arrest them," he said.'"
He wasn't arrested, but taken into protective custody. BTW - today's Boston Globe article has a bit more detail than the AP vesion linked in the FPP.
posted by ericb at 1:43 PM on July 8, 2005

on preview -what elwoodwiles said.
posted by ericb at 1:43 PM on July 8, 2005

I'm sure they took him in to spoil his night in revenge for him trying to tape them raging.

But if it is true that people at the party threw bottles at their car, I can see why the cops were angry. If people at a party threw bottles at your car, you might call the cops and expect them to go in and break things up or, depending on what you're like, you might run in and do a little screaming and throwing to the ground yourself.

Not that the cops acted properly (cops shouldn't lose control or play bullies) and not that they took in the right guy for the right reason (they wanted to be scary assholes and they didn't want it on tape), but, if the bottle story is true, I understand why they were pissed off. "Who, us, officer? [hic] Weee didn't throw bottles at your car. Smile for the camera."

Get drunk. Have fun. Get more drunk. But don't aggravate angry cops and still expect the fun to continue.
posted by pracowity at 1:48 PM on July 8, 2005

If you travelled from Maine, all the way to Waltham, on New Year's Eve, for a house party, you do in fact deserve some sort of harassment.

I know it doesn't make a lot of legal sense, but in a karmic world, Eric Laverriere deserved a night in the pokey.
posted by jsavimbi at 1:51 PM on July 8, 2005

"A person assisted to a facility or held in protective custody by the police pursuant to the provisions of this section, shall not be considered to have been arrested or to have been charged with any crime." Gen. Laws Mass. ch. 111B, sect. 8

The whole law is pretty frightening when you think of the possible abuse. At a BAC of over .05 you can be held if you fail physical sobriety tests and over .10 you can be held. I hardly think most people with a BAC of .10 are a danger to themselves or others, unless they decide to drive or play with firearms.
posted by caddis at 1:57 PM on July 8, 2005

Kwantsar: I hear Steve Balboni also took a swing at this guy.

Predictably, he whiffed.
posted by sellout at 2:47 PM on July 8, 2005

One wonders what the Founding Fathers would think.

I'd bet Samual Adams would be pissed. /pun

Cops should never be given the chance to abuse their authority more than once

posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:02 PM on July 8, 2005

One does have the right to get drunk on private property, but in this case, if what the cops are saying is true and they were following all laws and procedures, then:

1) People were throwing bottles at cars, giving the police plenty of reason to believe that someof the people there posed a danger to the public

2) The police saw this guy as legitimately infringing on their ability to do business by taping them, meaning he was obstructing them to a fair extent (this is a big if, but if cops certainly can ask you not to restrict their ability to do their thing, so we'll assume that this is what the cops are claiming that they were invoking at the time)

3) If this guy was, in fact, restricting the cops' ability to conduct their business, and refused the lawful order to desist, and appeared drunk, this gave the cops reason to believe that he was a nuisance because of his drunkenness. (but they still should have verified by breathalyzer or other means that he was. I don't see it mentioned in the articles whether they did or didn't. link, quote?)

So if the cops' side of the story is true, there is a fair legal argument for detaining the guy. But that's if their version is true. The stories seem equally plausible to me.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 5:18 PM on July 8, 2005

I should add that in my experience, cops do have a tendency to believe that people photographing, taping are obstructing their job more than they actually are. At the same time, though, people who are taking pictures, video tapes of cops, especially if they are drunk, might see themselves as doing an important public service, giving them the right to obstruct the cops duties more than they should. I see the possibility for both sides seeing themselves as righteous and doing public good, thus abusing their position.

Still, I think all cops should have to go through anger management before becoming cops because there are always going to be people who are just plain freaking annoying, even obstructive when they encounter you. Cops should be able to keep a level head regardless, so they can tell the difference between just annoying and obstructive.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 5:26 PM on July 8, 2005

I'd like to know how videotaping the police obstructs their ability to carry out their duty unless they think part of that duty is bullying and beating down alleged "perps".
posted by fenriq at 5:35 PM on July 8, 2005

gauchodaspampas, did you read the statute? According to this statute, even if you are drunk (beyond .10 BAC or beyond .05 BAC with a physical sobriety test failure) then you can be dragged off to jai, for your own protection of course.
posted by caddis at 7:21 PM on July 8, 2005

"jail" nor "jai"
posted by caddis at 7:58 PM on July 8, 2005

"jail" nor "jai"

"jail" not "jai"

Sorry, had to do it ... the next drink is on me ... since we'll each likely fail the "physical sobriety test"! ;-)
posted by ericb at 9:18 PM on July 8, 2005

It should be legal to be drunk in court, whilst being an astonaut and in the operating theatre.
posted by cassbrown1 at 12:13 AM on July 9, 2005

Thanks for asking, fenriq, I was wondering the same thing. Will this Argentinian-cowboy-in-Minnesota please answer the question?
posted by Goofyy at 12:24 AM on July 9, 2005

I have no idea how video taping a police officer obstructs them from doing their job, unless their job involves doing illegal shit that they don't want a record of, in which case they shouldn't be cops in the first place.

I honestly think cops should have video cameras on their radio-sets taping all the time. If they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear.
posted by delmoi at 12:28 AM on July 9, 2005

Waltham, Mass is the college town of my alma mater. Suffice to say, town-gown relations are stretched to the limit there. I myself fell victim to the Waltham PD's questionable tactics several times during 4 years in that town, and that was well before 9/11. I wouldn't be surprised if the drunk and his friends in this story were Brandeis students.
posted by LilBucner at 1:53 PM on July 9, 2005

Right now, or in a few years when it gets even cheaper, all cops should have somesort of camera built into their badges or something like that.
Then it would be a lot easier to sort out whether the police used unreasonable force or not.
posted by Iax at 7:52 PM on July 9, 2005

Founding fathers?

posted by Smedleyman at 5:31 PM on July 10, 2005

Wasted an image tag on a joke already made.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:06 PM on July 11, 2005

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