Police Can't 'Take It Slow': Unreasonable Detention found in State v. Montgomery
October 14, 2014
In State v. Montgomery, a woman in Williamson County was stopped by police on an unrelated matter. While she was stopped the first officer later testified he detected an odor of alcohol about her person, her speech was slurred and that she had watery eyes (sound familiar, anybody?). Instead of performing standard field sobriety task on her - such as the walk and turn or one legged stand - for which the officer was trained to do he instead held the suspect to wait for another officer. The second officer arrived, conducted field sobriety tasks with the suspect and arrested her for DUI. The trial court, however, suppressed the evidence against the suspect determining that: "while insufficient to establish probable cause for a DUI arrest, the odor of alcohol alone is sufficient to 'establish the right of the officer to briefly detain the defendant at the scene and administer field sobriety tests or otherwise ascertain defendant's state of sobriety'". In other words, the Court ruled the officer can use the odor of alcohol to investigate you further but he probably can't hold you to wait for some other officer to investigate you.
The use of specific DUI officers to investigate suspicion of DUI is common in many counties in Tennessee, particularly in Davidson County. The Montgomery ruling could impact the ability of the State to use some evidence obtained by the officers in some cases. It's vital to have an experienced criminal defense attorney to evaluate all the facts in your case to see if Montgomery or some other appellate case can be useful in helping your situation.
If you think you have a Montgomery issue, or if you think you may have another issue to help your case give me a call at (615) 708-5660.