- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 9, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Tennessee Supreme Court is hearing two cases that could have justices deciding how many times drivers have to cross a painted line on the road before officers can pull them over.

The two driving under the influence cases, which are from Williamson and Knox counties, involve drivers who were stopped by police after crossing road lines only once and for a brief amount of time, The Tennessean reported (https://tnne.ws/1LjSYul).

An attorney who handles DUI cases said allowing drivers to be pulled over for crossing a line just once opens the door to never really needing a reason to pull a driver over.

“I think it opens up the door that (police) can make any kind of traffic stop any time they want to,” Rob McKinney, a DUI defense lawyer in Nashville, said. “You’re going to have more traffic stops, police stopping more people solely for hitting that line.”

The Supreme Court hearing follows a decision by Judge Phillip Maxey in July to throw out a drunken driving case against freshman state Rep. Bill Beck, D-Nashville, because the police officer had only momentarily observed the lawmaker crossing over a turn line in the road.

“He was driving down the street and he was not completely in his lane,” Maxey said during the trial. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done that sober. I’ve hit the rumble strip so many times in the last week it’s uncountable.”

In one of the cases before the Supreme court, Linzey Smith was arrested on DUI charges in In December 2012 after a state trooper spotted her vehicle about 6 inches over the white fog line and pulled her over. Her attorney, Patrick Newsom of Nashville, said in court filings that the Tennessee General Assembly didn’t intend for the driving laws to apply to such minor incidents.

Smith’s case has been consolidated with one involving William Davis of Knoxville. According to court documents, Davis was pulled over in 2009 by a sheriff’s deputy who testified that video showed Davis crossing lines one time in a quarter-mile stretch of road, which included a curve. Davis, who is an attorney, will be arguing his own case.

In both cases, the attorney general argues that even the brief line crossing violates the law and is enough to warrant a traffic stop.

In the first seven months of this year, Nashville police made 216,000 traffic stops. Police officials said 80 percent of those turned out to be warnings only.

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