State of Tennessee v. David Dwayne Bell

State of Tennessee v. David Dwayne Bell
E2011-01241-SC-R11-CD

This appeal involves the weight that should be given to a motorist’s performance on field sobrietytests in determining whether probable cause existed to arrest the motorist for driving under the influence of an intoxicant (“DUI”). A law enforcement officer stopped a motorist who was driving in the wrong direction on a divided highway in Sevier County. Another officer administered several field sobriety tests, and arrested the motorist for DUI because the motorist had been driving in the wrong direction on a divided highway, smelled of alcohol, and admitted that he had been drinking. When the grand juryreturned a presentment charging the motorist with DUI and DUI per se, he filed a motion in the Circuit Court for Sevier County to suppress the evidence and to dismiss the charges. The trial court dismissed the charges on the ground that the officer lacked probable cause to arrest the motorist in light of his performance on the field sobriety tests. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed. State v. Bell, No. E2011-01241-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 3776695 (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 31, 2012). We granted the State’s Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application for permission to appeal and now hold that the officer had probable cause to arrest the motorist for DUI without a warrant. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals and the trial court, reinstate the charges, and remand to the trial court for further proceedings

Authoring Judge: 
Justice William C. Koch, Jr.
Originating Judge: 
Judge Rex Henry Ogle
Date Filed: 
Thursday, February 20, 2014