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Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County v. Stark

January 31, 2008

METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY,
v.
DARYL K. STARK



Direct Appeal from the Circuit Court for Davidson County No. 06C2109 Hon. Amanda McClendon, Circuit Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

The Trial Court granted defendant permission to attend traffic school in lieu of a fine. On appeal, we reverse because State and federal law does not permit diversion for a commercially licensed operator.

Tenn. R. App. P.3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Reversed.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herschel Pickens Franks, P.J.

Assigned on Briefs, December 7, 2007

HERSCHEL PICKENS FRANKS, P.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which CHARLES D. SUSANO, JR., J., and D. MICHAEL SWINEY, J., joined.

OPINION

This is an appeal by the appellant, involving the sentence imposed upon defendant's violation of the municipal traffic ordinances in Davidson County. Defendant was issued a ticket for speeding, and the citation states that the defendant was driving 80 mph in a 55 mph zone.

Defendant appealed from the General Sessions Court Judgment against him to the Circuit Court.

A hearing was held in Circuit Court and the citation officer testified that the citation was issued to defendant on June 2, 2006, after observing the defendant's vehicle approaching him at a high rate of speed. He testified that he was in an unmarked vehicle, and defendant was passing other traffic. He testified that he used his radar gun and clocked the defendant at 80 mph, and that the speed limit in the area was 55.

He pulled defendant over, and explained that his radar gun was calibrated daily, and that it was accurate even if it was used while he was in motion. He further testified that a couple of miles before the area where he clocked defendant, the speed limit was 70 mph.

Defendant testified that he lived in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and that he was on vacation traveling with his family. He testified that it was dark when he was pulled over, and it was just 2-3 miles past where he had seen a 70 mph speed limit sign, so he had his cruise control set on 70 mph, and that he never saw a sign changing the speed limit to 55 mph.

He testified that he worked for UPS as a delivery driver and trainer, and that he taught other drivers about safety, speed, etc. He testified that he believed the speed limit was 70 mph where he was pulled over, but admitted that he was not very familiar with the interstate system in Nashville, and could have missed a sign. He further testified that he had a commercial driver's license.

At the conclusion of the proof, the Trial Court commented that the traffic officer had an "impeccable" reputation, but that one was still guilty of speeding even if it was done by mistake. The Court observed that it could be seen how a person might miss the speed reduction, and the Court also empathized with the impact this would have on defendant's CDL.*fn1 The Court mentioned traffic school as an option, but the Metro attorney stated that their position was that a person with a CDL could not attend traffic school due to the federal legislation that ...


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