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State v. Martin

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

May 11, 2017


         Session February 15, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Cheatham County No. 17289 Larry J. Wallace, Judge

         Defendant, Scarlet I. Martin, was convicted of driving under the influence of an intoxicant ("DUI") and driving under the influence of an intoxicant with a blood alcohol concentration ("BAC") greater than .08 ("DUI per se"). She appeals, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions and that the trial court erred by denying her motion to suppress the results of a warrantless blood draw. After carefully reviewing the record, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient and that the blood draw was justified by exigent circumstances. Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Circuit Court Affirmed

          Rob McKinney and Brittney Hollis, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Scarlet I. Martin.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; M. Todd Ridley, Assistant Attorney General; Ray Crouch, District Attorney General; and Jack Arnold and Talmage M. Woodall, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Robert W. Wedemeyer and Robert L. Holloway, Jr., JJ., joined.



         I. Procedural History and Factual Summary

          After a preliminary hearing, Defendant was indicted for DUI and DUI per se. Defendant filed a motion to suppress the test results of a warrantless blood draw. The trial court denied the motion. Defendant proceeded to a bench trial and was convicted as charged.

         At trial, Trooper Bryant Campbell of the Tennessee Highway Patrol ("THP") testified that on February 5, 2014, he was dispatched to the site of a single-car accident on Chapmansboro Road. The accident occurred around 10:30 p.m. THP was notified of the accident by the Cheatham County Sheriff's Department. Deputies James Curran and William Zimmerlee were also dispatched to the scene. When Trooper Campbell arrived around 11:05 p.m., Defendant and a male passenger were receiving medical treatment and being loaded into the back of an ambulance. Trooper Campbell spoke briefly with the medical personnel, but he did not address Defendant or the passenger.

         Pursuant to THP protocol, Trooper Campbell commenced a vehicle accident investigation. Trooper Campbell observed that the vehicle had departed from the road and gone "off down an embankment in a bunch of thicket-like area." There were about 50 feet of tire markings on the road, and it appeared that the vehicle travelled down the hill for about 150 feet. Trooper Campbell surmised that the vehicle was traveling north at the time of the accident. During the course of his on-site investigation, Trooper Campbell did not find any evidence of alcohol consumption and, therefore, did not have any suspicion of DUI at the time.

         Because the vehicle appeared inoperable, Trooper Campbell called for a tow truck. The tow truck arrived around midnight. THP policy requires a patrolman to wait at the scene of an accident until a tow truck operator has completely secured the vehicle by loading the vehicle on the tow truck. The patrolman is also required to ensure that the tow truck operator retrieves all parts of the vehicle and does not leave anything behind.

         After leaving the scene of the accident, Trooper Campbell went to the hospital to interview the Defendant and the passenger. He arrived at the hospital around 12:20 a.m. Defendant was being prepared for a CT scan, so Trooper Campbell spoke with the passenger, who appeared to have "scratches and marks all on him." When Defendant returned from the scan, Trooper Campbell "could smell alcoholic beverage coming off of her." The odor of alcohol was strong enough that the trooper recognized it "right away." Trooper Campbell also noticed a "slight" slurring of Defendant's speech.

         Defendant admitted to Trooper Campbell that she was driving the vehicle and that she and the passenger were returning from Nashville. Defendant also admitted she had two alcoholic beverages before driving. At this point, Trooper Campbell suspected Defendant of committing DUI so he read the implied consent form to Defendant. She refused to sign the form and refused to submit to a blood draw. Trooper Campbell directed one of the nurses to proceed with a blood draw without Defendant's consent. After the blood was drawn, Trooper Campbell secured the blood. A forensic analysis of the blood conducted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation determined that Defendant's BAC was .17, which is more than twice the legal limit in Tennessee.

         Trooper Campbell testified that there was nothing that he could have done to speed up the investigation. He later learned that the crashed vehicle was registered to Defendant's father.

         The trial court found Trooper Campbell's testimony credible and found Defendant guilty as charged. The trial court merged both convictions and accepted the parties' agreement to a ...

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