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State v. Williams

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

April 26, 2018

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
JAMES LARRY WILLIAMS

          Assigned on Briefs April 3, 2018 at Jackson

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Williamson County No. II-CR170166 James G. Martin III, Judge

         The Defendant, James Larry Williams, entered a guilty plea to driving under the influence (DUI), reserving a certified question of law challenging whether there existed sufficient probable cause that a violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-8-123(1) had occurred or reasonable suspicion based upon the totality of the circumstances to justify a traffic stop of the Defendant's vehicle. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court

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

          Walter W. Bussart, Lewisburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Larry Williams.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Kim R. Helper, District Attorney General; and Tristan R. P. Poorman and Christopher K. Vernon, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Robert L. Holloway, Jr., and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          D. KELLY THOMAS, JR., JUDGE

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On March 13, 2017, the Williamson County Grand Jury returned an indictment charging the Defendant with DUI and DUI per se, which is driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content of .08% or greater. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-401(1), (2). On April 5, 2017, the Defendant filed a motion to suppress "any illegally obtained or inadmissible evidence, " which was followed by a supplementary memorandum on June 26, 2017, specifying the evidence to be suppressed as the arresting officer's "dash cam video" and "all evidence flowing from the stop."

         A hearing was held on the motion to suppress on July 7, 2017. At the hearing, Deputy William Harris of the Williamson County Sheriff's Office testified that shortly before midnight on April 28, 2016, he received a be-on-the-lookout report (BOLO) involving a silver Infiniti with a possible tag identification travelling southbound on Hillsboro Road. The deputy was at the intersection of Hillsboro Road and South Berry's Chapel Road when he observed a silver Infiniti turn onto Cotton Lane. Deputy Harris began to follow the vehicle and confirmed through dispatch that the tag number of the vehicle matched the tag number in the BOLO report. The deputy testified that while following the vehicle, he observed it "cross the fog line on the right side, and then bounce and cross the left double yellow line three times" prior to making the decision to stop the vehicle.

         Deputy Harris's dash cam video was entered into evidence and played for the court. The deputy indicated to the court the times during the video at which he observed the vehicle's crossing the fog line and also crossing the center line.

         On cross-examination, Deputy Harris conceded that the road was dark and did not have lighting, the road did not have shoulders, the lines were faded, mailboxes were close to the road, and the road "follow[ed] the contour[s] of the land . . . [with] dips[, ] . . . mounds[, ] and curves." The deputy also conceded that there would be times when a prudent driver would not be expected to "navigate this roadway perfectly within the lane." The deputy acknowledged that several of the residential driveways on that road were gravel driveways, but he denied observing any gravel in the road that night.

         The Defendant offered as proof a portion of Deputy Harris's dash cam video that was digitally brightened for clarity. ...


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