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Tennessee drunk driving charge a result of failure to yield?

A Tennessee woman may have learned an important lesson about how to react to flashing lights -- especially if those lights are on a police car. The police vehicle was originally responding to a report of a burglary that came in shortly after 12 a.m. on the second Wednesday of July. If the call wasn't cancelled for the officer -- and if the 32-year-old woman had followed a basic driving rule instead of ignoring it as alleged -- she might not be facing a drunk driving charge now.

The basic rule: unless otherwise directed by a police officer, a driver must yield to an emergency vehicle by pulling over as far as possible to the right and parallel to the right-hand curb in order to permit the emergency vehicle to pass on the left. By doing so, the driver will have a clearer view of the emergency vehicle as it passes on the driver's side rather than the passenger side. Emergency vehicles are required to pass on the left, and the officer responding to the burglary report alleges he couldn't do so because the woman driving in front of him on Highway 11-W stayed in the left lane.

In his report, the officer noted that he got behind the driver on his way to the burglary call, but the woman continued driving in the left lane for about one-half mile even though he kept his emergency lights and siren on. When the burglary call was cancelled, he claims he turned on his blue lights and attempted to stop the driver, but she allegedly continued driving on the highway for a short while until she exited and made a turn onto a local road before coming to a stop 100 yards later. The officer claims that he smelled alcohol and his report notes a failed sobriety test.

The Tennessee woman was charged with drunk driving and failure to yield to an emergency vehicle. If she had pulled over to the right in the first place, however, the officer may have driven past her on the left and proceeded on his way to the call instead of making the traffic stop. Nevertheless, to make the charges stick, the prosecution will need to prove the allegations noted in the police report and in accordance with each element of the crimes charged.

Source: Kingsport Times-News, "Failure to yield to police car leads to DUI charge," Jeff Bobo, July 11, 2013

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