Thursday, December 29, 2011

DUI Law - Tennessee Limits Power of Police to Arrest Outside Municipality

In State of Tennessee v. Cox, Slip Copy, 2011 WL 4716284 (Tenn.Crim.App.) the appellate court affirmed a trial court ruling, holding that a Tennessee Valley Authority police officer had no jurisdiction to stop a vehicle outside of his jurisdiction. The state tied to argue that, like other police officers, the TVA police still have police power throughout the State. In distinguishing, the court relied on the enabling statute which provides that a TVA peace officer:

“shall have and exercise ... the power to make arrests for public offenses ... committed upon, about, or against TVA property or on public roads or rights-of-way passing through or over such property, and, while in pursuit of a person fleeing after committing such an offense, may pursue the person and make arrest anywhere in the state.... Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the authorities, responsibilities and liabilities of such officers shall be limited as provided for under this section.” (emphasis supplied)

The State then tried to use the 'citizen arrest' statute as an alternative basis for the stop. Unfortunately, the record made in the trial court by the prosecutor was poor:

"The State contends that even if Tennessee Code Annotated section 39–3–120 is not applicable, Officer Smith had the authority to make the stop pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40–7–109, the “citizen's arrest” statute. This claim is likewise unavailing. Tennessee Code Annotated section 40–7–109 provides that in limited situations, a private citizen may be authorized to make an arrest. However, as the defendant notes, the record provided on appeal does not reflect Officer Smith's reason for stopping the defendant, leaving us unable to determine whether there was a legitimate basis for the stop. Therefore, “this court must presume that the trial court's rulings were supported by sufficient evidence.” State v. Oody, 823 S.W.2d 554, 559 (Tenn.Crim.App.1991) 

Editor's Note: This case is a good example of what a defendant should argue if the State tries to seek an alternate ground on appeal for reversal - keep in mind that most prosecutors at the trial level do not think about 'making a record' before filing a knee-jerk appeal. Looking for a Top DUI DWI Attorney? Visit Americas Top DUI and DWI Attorneys at or call 1-800-DIAL-DUI to find a DUI OUI DWI Attorney Lawyer Now!

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