A Crossville Police Officer was correct in stopping a suspected drunk driver, based on information that he had received and after observing the motorist, the Tennessee Criminal Court of Appeals has ruled, and as a result, Frank Edward Davidson of Cumberland County will now face trial for tenth offense driving under the influence, second offense driving on a revoked license and driving with a restriction.

Davidson was indicted by the Cumberland County Grand Jury on May 8, 2007, on the listed charges after Crossville Police Lt. Tony Davis arrested him. Davis testified during a suppression hearing that he had received through his dispatcher a complaint that Davidson may have been intoxicated after being observed by citizens falling in a bar parking lot and traveling through a drive-thru at the Tobacco Store at the intersection of Lantana Rd. and West Ave.

Davis testified that he followed Davidson's vehicle to Elmore Rd. and then onto Hwy. 70 N as it reached the city limits where he then conducted a traffic stop.

While having Davidson's vehicle under observation, Davis testified that Davidson drove left of the center line four times.

A poorly lighted video from the patrol car's video camera was inconclusive and Criminal Court Judge Leon Burns ruled in favor of Assistant Public Defender Cynthia Lyons' motion that there was not probable cause of reasonable suspicion for Davis to stop the motorist.

In his ruling, Judge Burns questioned whether it was reasonable to expect a motorist to stay within his lane of traffic at all times. " ... touching of the line is something that I suspect that we all do from time to time," Burns said when issuing his ruling.

Burns admitted that "it is a close case," but he said evidence told him that the traffic stop was conducted more on the citizen complaint and less on "seeing bad driving."

The trial judge concluded, "This is a horrible case, and a pretty serious case with which he's been charged: a multiple offense DUI, and violation of the habitual offender order. And (Davidson) is no stranger to the system.

"And I suspect, if your picture is not on the wall down there to be aware that (Davidson) has no license to drive, it ought to be on the wall down there.

"But, under the ... what have seen, I don't think that there's enough reasonable suspicion to stop in this case ... "

The 13th Judicial District Attorney General's Office and Assistant DA Holly Hunter filed an appeal of the ruling and wrote that the totality of the circumstances were considered, including the officer's personal observations and rational inferences and deductions of the trained law enforcement officer.

The court added that this also includes information from citizens and the pattern of operation of certain offenders.

The appeals court did agree with Judge Burns that the case was a close call on the issue of the legality of the stop.

The District Attorney's Office stated Friday it was prepared to go to trial now that the Appeals Court has made its ruling. Davidson's case is now on the deadline docket that will be called Wednesday.



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