State v. Robinson, 96-00029

CourtSupreme Court of Tennessee
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM
Citation29 S.W.3d 476
Decision Date04 October 2000
Docket Number96-00029
PartiesSTATE OF TENNESSEE v. MICHAEL ELMORE ROBINSONIN THE SUPREME COURT OF TENNESSEE AT NASHVILLE February 2000 Session Filed

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
MICHAEL ELMORE ROBINSON

No. M1996-00029-SC-R11-CD

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF TENNESSEE AT NASHVILLE

February 2000 Session

Filed October 4, 2000

Appeal by Permission from the Court of Criminal Appeals Criminal Court for Rutherford County No. M-34917

James K. Clayton, Jr., Judge

This is an appeal from the judgment of the Rutherford County Criminal Court where the defendant was convicted and sentenced for his third offense of driving under the influence. Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-401(a) (1998). After determining that the defendant was a repeat offender, the trial court instructed the jury that intoxication may be inferred from a blood alcohol content of .08%. On appeal, the Court of Criminal Appeals rejected the defendant's argument that Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-408(b) violated the equal protection provisions of the state and federal constitutions. We conclude that the statute does not violate equal protection because it is rationally related to the State's legitimate interest in deterring repeat offenders. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Tenn. R. App. P. 11 Appeal by Permission; Judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals

Affirmed.

Michael J. Flanagan, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael Elmore Robinson.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General & Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Daryl J. Brand, Associate Solicitor General; William C. Whitesell, Jr., District Attorney General; and John W. Price, III, Assistant District Attorney, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

E. Riley Anderson, C. J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Frank F. Drowota, III, Adolpho A. Birch, jr., and Janice M. Holder, JJ., joined. William M. Barker, J., not participating.

OPINION

We granted this appeal to determine whether Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-408(b) (1998), which provides that evidence of a .08% blood alcohol content creates a presumption of intoxication in cases where a defendant has previously been convicted of driving under the influence, violates the equal protection provisions of the United States and Tennessee Constitutions.

The defendant, Michael Elmore Robinson, was convicted of his third offense of driving under the influence (DUI) after the jury was instructed in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-408(b).(FN1) On appeal, the Court of Criminal Appeals concluded that the statute is rationally related to the State's legitimate interest in deterring repeat offenders and does not violate the equal protection provisions of the United States or Tennessee Constitutions.

After our review of the record and applicable authority, we agree that Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-408(b) is rationally related to the State's legitimate interest in deterring repeat DUI offenders and does not violate the equal protection provisions of the United States or Tennessee Constitutions. We further conclude that in order to protect a defendant's right to a fair trial, the trial court should hold a hearing outside the presence of the jury to determine by a preponderance of the evidence whether the defendant has a prior DUI conviction and, if so, should instruct the jury that it is permitted but not required to "infer" intoxication if it finds the defendant to have a blood alcohol content of .08 %, without using the term "presumption." Because these safeguards were followed in this case, we affirm the Court of Criminal Appeals' judgment.

BACKGROUND

In the early morning hours of July 16, 1995, law enforcement officers found the defendant, Michael Elmore Robinson, asleep in his car in Rutherford County. The rear of Robinson's car was blocking an intersection and the front end was in a ditch, resting against a stop sign. The driver's side door was open and there were two beer cans in the car.

Trooper John Albertson testified that he arrived at the scene around 5:00 a.m. and that Robinson smelled of alcohol. According to Trooper Albertson, Robinson's speech was slurred and he staggered. Robinson admitted to having some drinks around 1:30 a.m. that morning and stated that he had fallen asleep on his way home.

Trooper Albertson administered four field sobriety tests: Robinson could not successfully...

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48 practice notes
  • State v. Ackerman, No. M2010–01979–CCA–R3–CD.
    • United States
    • Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 13 Julio 2012
    ...that an act of the General Assembly is constitutional,” Gallaher v. Elam, 104 S.W.3d 455, 459 (Tenn.2003) (citing State v. Robinson, 29 S.W.3d 476, 479–80 (Tenn.2000); Riggs v. Burson, 941 S.W.2d 44, 51 (Tenn.1997)). Moreover, [397 S.W.3d 642]a reviewing court must “ ‘indulge every presumpt......
  • Bd. of Educ. of Shelby Cnty. v. Memphis City Bd. of Educ., No. 11-2101
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Western District of Tennessee
    • 8 Agosto 2011
    ...2002)). "Our charge is to uphold the constitutionality of a statute wherever possible." Id. (citation omitted); accord State v. Robinson, 29 S.W.3d 476, 480 (Tenn. 2000). "In evaluating the constitutionality of a statute, we must indulge every presumption and resolve every doubt in favor of......
  • 729, Inc. v. Kenton County Fiscal Court, No. 06-6390.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • 6 Febrero 2008
    ...law subjects administrative determinations to de novo review when constitutional questions are at issue) (citing State v. Robinson, 29 S.W.3d 476, 480 Accordingly, we conclude that the plaintiffs' efforts to distinguish review under § 23A.010(4) from the judicial review upheld by the Suprem......
  • Hughes v. Tenn. Bd. of Prob. & Parole, No. M2015–00722–SC–R11–CV
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • 2 Junio 2016
    ...that an act of the General Assembly is constitutional," Gallaher v. Elam , 104 S.W.3d 455, 459 (Tenn. 2003) (citing State v. Robinson, 29 S.W.3d 476, 479 (Tenn. 2000) ; Riggs v. Burson, 941 S.W.2d 44, 51 (Tenn. 1997) ). "In a civil case heard without a jury, the trial court's findings of fa......
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48 cases
  • Hughes v. Tenn. Bd. of Prob. & Parole, No. M2015–00722–SC–R11–CV
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • 2 Junio 2016
    ...an act of the General Assembly is constitutional," Gallaher v. Elam , 104 S.W.3d 455, 459 (Tenn. 2003) (citing State v. Robinson, 29 S.W.3d 476, 479 (Tenn. 2000) ; Riggs v. Burson, 941 S.W.2d 44, 51 (Tenn. 1997) ). "In a civil case heard without a jury, the trial court's findings ......
  • State v. Gomez
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • 15 Abril 2005
    ...are mindful that statutes are presumed to be constitutional. See Gallaher v. Elam, 104 S.W.3d 455, 459 (Tenn. 2003); State v. Robinson, 29 S.W.3d 476, 479 (Tenn.2000); Riggs v. Burson, 941 S.W.2d 44, 51 (Tenn.1997). Indeed, we must "indulge every presumption and resolve every doubt in ......
  • Willeford v. Klepper, No. M2016-01491-SC-R11-CV
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • 28 Febrero 2020
    ...an act of the General Assembly is constitutional." Gallaher v. Elam, 104 S.W.3d 455, 459 (Tenn. 2003) (citing State v. Robinson, 29 S.W.3d 476, 479-480 (Tenn. 2000) ; Riggs v. Burson, 941 S.W.2d 44, 51 (Tenn. 1997) ). "[I]n reviewing [a] statute for a possible constitutional infir......
  • Sherwood v. Microsoft Corporation, No. M2000-01850-COA-R9-CV.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Tennessee
    • 31 Julio 2003
    ...v. McWherter, 866 S.W.2d 520, 529-30 (Tenn. 1993). We must presume that an act of the legislature is constitutional. State v. Robinson, 29 S.W.3d 476, 479 (Tenn. Page 26 It was these already established principles that framed the Tennessee Supreme Court's decision and language in Standard O......
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