Tennessee Courts have held that “neither drifting within a lane nor merely touching a dividing lane is sufficient basis to stop a vehicle.’’ The Supreme Court of Tennessee has concluded that “if failure to follow a perfect vector down the highway was sufficient reason to suspect a person of driving while impaired, a substantial portion of the public would be subject each day to an invasion of their privacy.”
The former Tennessee Titan’s quarterback, Steve McNair, was charged with a DUI in Nashville, Tennessee and had the case against him dismissed in July of 2004 because of the prosecution’s failure to meet the requirement of the 4th Amendment that law enforcement have reasonable suspicion to initiate a stop of a person suspected of a crime. The videotape of the Defendant driving his Lincoln Navigator showed: (1) his left tires touching the yellow line and riding on the line for approximately 4 seconds (2) showed his left tires touching the yellow line immediately before and where there is a center “turn lane” marked with diagonal yellow lines indicating it is no longer a turn lane for approximately 6 seconds and lastly (3) his left tires touching the yellow line for approximately 3 seconds.
Although the Defendant submitted to a test indicating a breath alcohol content (BAC) of 0.18% at the time of his arrest, the case was dismissed because the evidence against him was excluded after the Court concluded that the Defendant’s driving over a two block period did not provide "specific and articulable facts", i.e. reasonable suspicion, that the Defendant was driving under the influence. As a result of the illegal stop, all evidence against the Defendant was excluded.
The 4th Amendment protects us from intrusion into the privacy of our lives by unwarranted governmental searches, and mandates that if searches are deemed unwarranted, as in the case against Steve McNair, then the evidence obtained shall be excluded.
So how does everyone feel about this?
I'll start with my opinion, which is that without strict adherence to the principles of the 4th Amendment and the exclusion of illegally seized evidence, we would open the door to a police state where personal freedoms and fundamental rights were disregarded and abused. I believe in and fight for a system in which basic fundamental freedoms guaranteed us in our Constitution are honored and given full effect.