Page last updated at 20:44 GMT, Friday, 8 July 2005 21:44 UK

US man sues for right to be drunk

The right to get drunk at home is under threat, Mr Laverriere says

A US man who spent a night in police custody after being arrested at a friend's house party is suing for the right to be drunk on private property.

Eric Laverriere was arrested at a New Year's Eve party in Massachusetts under a law allowing police to detain people who are drunk and deemed to be a danger to others or themselves.

He argues that police had no right to take him from the house when he was not causing any trouble.

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

The local police chief has not commented on the lawsuit.

Fourteenth Amendment

Mr Laverriere was arrested under Massachusetts state's Protective Custody Law.

He says he had had several beers but was not drunk when police arrived at the party complaining that bottles had been thrown at a passing patrol car.

When party-goers denied any bottles had been thrown, he says, the officers became angry.

Mr Laverriere says he then picked up a video camera and began filming the police.

An officer removed the camera from his hands and restrained him, injuring his shoulder.

The police report says he was "intoxicated" and seemed unhappy to leave the party.

Mr Laverriere fell to the floor as he resisted attempts to handcuff him, the report says.

A lawyer who has defended the police was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying officers were obliged to take a person into custody if they appeared intoxicated and threatening.

Mr Laverriere, who has maintained he was neither drunk nor dangerous at the time, is arguing that his right to be drunk in private is enshrined in the constitution's Fourteenth Amendment.

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