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As the Advocate in Baton Rouge put it in January, when a local police chief's wife was spotted behind the wheel of his patrol car in the annual Christmas parade, it led to a few raised eyebrows. When she pulled up to the French Settlement Police Station in February, turned her headlights out, and allegedly attempted to run into an investigating officer before fleeing the scene, it led to DUI, speeding, and driving with a suspended license charges.
As the Advocate was careful to point out when reporting the latter incident, however: "She was not driving a patrol car at the time of her arrest."
Personal or on Patrol?
The Board of Aldermen of French Settlement voted to get guidance from the Louisiana Attorney General about Tammy Brignac's use of husband and Police Chief Harry Brignac's patrol car earlier this year. But apparently that use was not limited to parades. According to the Advocate, Mayor Toni Guitrau and Mayor Pro Tem Teresa Miller both saw Tammy driving the patrol car around the village for years, including to work at the Dollar General and as a school crossing guard. She was also allegedly spotted behind the wheel of the patrol car during a snow storm in December of last year.
The legal issues stemming from Tammy Brignac's use of the patrol car as a personal vehicle run the gamut from state laws prohibiting donations and using public funds for personal uses to potential liability issues for the town if she is not insured and has an accident. But those pale in comparison to the criminal liability she is facing for the DUI-related charges.
A "Very Little" DUI
Tammy allegedly drove a red Dodge Ram pickup to the French Settlement Police Station and turned her headlights out, according to police. When Port Vincent Police Officer Brent Watts came out of the station to investigate the suspicious vehicle, she allegedly said "that she only had to listen to Harry Brignac" before attempting to run into Watts and then speeding off. Tammy was allegedly clocked going 68 MPH in a 45 zone, and ultimately arrested when she stopped at her residence. A chemical test revealed her blood alcohol content to be .177, over twice the legal limit.
The police chief's wife conceded she had a couple beers and "blew very little," but denied the speeding and suspended license charges. "Being my husband is a police chief, I have too much respect for the speed limit to disobey it," she told the Livingston Parish News. "I don't know how they came up with this. I asked Harry to run my license and it doesn't show a suspension."
She also alleged that arresting officers used excessive force when she was taken into custody, although another local police chief said no formal complaints had been filed. "This whole thing looks like some kind of setup," Tammy asserted. "There are a lot of people who have it out for me and Harry."