Citing precedent in Louisiana law, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeal in Gretna has upheld the right of private citizens to arrest individuals suspected of drunk driving.

The case stems from an incident on New Year’s Eve 2006 on the West Bank of New Orleans in Jefferson Parish in which a Gretna police detective who was off duty and out of his jurisdiction at the time pulled over a man whose pickup was swerving on the road. The detective, Brian Rico, didn’t wait for local officers to arrive, and when he patted down suspect Tracy Common found 50 ecstasy pills and $1,100 in cash. Common was later arrested on drug charges by local law enforcement and appealed his sentence.

Although the three-judge 5th Circuit panel overturned Common’s sentence, which was enhanced for multiple prior felony arrests, it let stand the circumstances of his arrest, citing a previous case heard by the state’s 1st Circuit Court of Appeal, which upheld the arrest of a drunk driver by a volunteer firefighter from Texas.

Read the full opinion here.

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