Two DUI Cases Pending at The Tennessee Supreme Court

Currently, there are three driving under the influence (DUI) cases pending at the Tennessee Supreme Court. Two cases have similar issues and one may have the Court adopt the good faith exception. Here is my take on the two traffic stop cases.

In State v. Linzey Smith and State v. William Davis Jr. both address traffic stops. In each case, the probable cause was failure to maintain lane under T.C.A. 55-8-123(1). One bright spot was the ruling in State v. Binnette, which lead to a flood of motions to suppress based upon the ruling that it was impossible to drive a car in a perfect straight vector. In Smith, the court denied the motion to suppress. The court held "a showing of reasonable suspicion does not require an actual violation of the law because Terry accepts the risk that police may stop innocent people". I expect the court to adopt the lanquauge that reasonable suspicion is enough for a valid traffic stop and Binnette will be overruled. Here is a link to a News Channel Five story where I was interviewed on the cases.

What does this mean for Tennessee motorists? It means more traffic stops. Police will be able to stop a car for touching a white line anytime anywhere. It will lead to more pre-textual traffic stops. The police will have the power to make unfettered traffic stops. Melanie Wilson Dean of the UTK School of Law wrote a great article for the Kansas Law Review on the topic that is worth checking out.

The Fourth Amendment will soon take another hit.

Is Weaving on the Road Enough to Stop Your Car

                               

One of the best defenses  to avoid a Tennessee drunk driving conviction is to review the traffic stop. Police must have reasonable suspicion that a traffic offense occurred before a car or truck can be stopped for a traffic violation. The National Highway Traffic  Safety Administration ( NHSTA) has created a list of visual detection clues.One clue is weaving.

Problems in Maintaining Proper Lane Position

Maintaining proper lane position can be a difficult task for an impaired driver. For example, we have all seen vehicles weaving before. Weaving is when the vehicle alternately moves toward one side of the lane and then the other. The pattern of lateral movement can be fairly regular, as one steering correction is closely followed by another. In extreme cases, the vehicle's wheels even cross the lane lines before a correction is made. You might even observe a vehicle straddling a center or lane line. That is, the vehicle is moving straight ahead with either the right or left tires on the wrong side of the lane line or markers.

WeavingWeaving

San Diego DUI lawyer Rick Mueller wrote  a recent blog post that reviewed several states laws on weaving.However , he didn't discuss any Tennessee criminal law in his post.

In State of Tennessee v. Binette , the Tennessee Supreme Court held  that weaving is not sufficient grounds to pull a motorist over unless it is a pronounced movement.Bottom line is that weaving as a defense to a traffic stop is on a case by case basis.It also sure helps to have a video of the traffic stop.

Nashville's 132 Report and the Traffic Stop

A police officer must have probable cause to make a traffic stop in an DUI investigation.  In Metro Nashville Davidson County's DUI testing report commonly referred to as a 132 report it lists several reasons for a traffic stop.They are:

  • Crossing center dividing line
  • Failure to obey traffic signals
  • Swerving within the roadway
  • equipment violations such as driving without headlights
  • Speeding
  • Vehicle driving off roadway

The reason for the traffic stop is the first thing an experienced DUI lawyer investigates.

 

Speeding Tickets and CDL Licenses in Nashville Tennessee

The  The Patriot Act passed after 9/11 made it impossible for commerical truck drivers to go to traffic safety school to avoid a traffic violation.I hope this short video helps explain defending you traffic ticket here in Nashville,Tennessee.

 

UT Basketball Players Arrested

 

Tyler Smith , a star  player on Tennessee's basketball team, as well as three players were recently arrested for drug and weapons charges in Knoxville.Knoxville Police Department reported  that the four players were arrested after a traffic stop for speeding.According to the police report, officers smelled marijuana coming from the car.A police drug dog indicated the presence of drugs in the car.Police searched the car and found handguns, a bag of marijuana ,and an open container of alcohol.All were charged with possession of firearms and drug possession charges.

What is the legal importance of this case? It illustrates that passengers in a car can be charged with a crime even though they do not actually possess the drugs or weapons. In this case the weapons were found under the seat.The police arrested these players under the theory of constructive possession of drugs and weapons.

 

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