I have handled numerous DUI cases in Montgomery County, surrounding counties, and on Fort Campbell military base in which the reason for the stop of the vehicle by the officer is unknown to the Defendant, now charged with DUI, or is what a defense attorney would call a pre-textual stop (meaning a stop on the pretext or for the stated reason that an offense or crime occurred which was the basis for the stop when no such offense or crime in fact occurred). The important point to remember is that when an officer stops your vehicle without reasonable suspicion or probable cause to do so, any evidence obtained as a result of the stop is excluded by the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution.

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, Tennesseeand 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.

12/1/2015 06:58:02 pm

That's good to know. I thought any swerving was probable cause. So this is a possible defense because of 4th amendment? And an attorney can help with this?

12/1/2015 08:33:34 pm

Only pronounced swerving or hard weaving is reasonable suspicion to be pulled over for driving under the influence. All attorneys are not equal, so not any attorney can help you with this. Find an attorney who practices this area of law, knows the law and that will fight to protect your rights.

12/1/2015 07:43:08 pm

This is a great read! I agree with your opinion and would like to add that simply because citizens don't know their rights the police are taking advantage of them. It's easy for someone to be scared when they don't know their rights. And unfortunately a lot of fellow Tennesseans don't have the financial resources to obtain a great attorney like yourself.

12/1/2015 08:50:46 pm

Thank you Mckeata, and you are right that when being charged with a crime there is the fear of being taken advantage of because the person does not know their rights and also the fear of the unknown. That is where having an experienced, knowledgeable, aggressive defense attorney is invaluable in getting you through the process with the best possible outcome and least amount of stress possible. Our office has affordable rates and payment plans available as well as free consultations. Schedule an appointment by calling 931-919-4376.


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