NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee state lawmaker who was the lead sponsor of a law allowing handgun concealed carry permit holders to bring their guns into bars has been arrested on charges of drunken driving and possession of a gun while under the influence.
Rep. Curry Todd, a Collierville Republican, was pulled over in Nashville late Tuesday, police say in court documents. He allegedly failed a roadside sobriety test and refused to take a Breathalyzer test. A loaded .38-caliber gun was found in a holster stuffed between the driver seat and the center console.
A police affidavit said Todd was unsteady on his feet, “almost falling down at times.” It concluded that Todd was “obviously very impaired and not in any condition to be carrying a loaded handgun.”
As a former Memphis police officer, Todd isn’t required to have to have a permit to carry a gun in public, but state records show he has one anyway.
State law makes it a misdemeanor for anyone to consume alcohol while carrying a firearm in public, and those who violate that law are subject to losing their permits for three years.
The name of a lawyer for Todd, who is a former Memphis police officer, could not immediately be located. A spokesman for the House Republican Caucus had no immediate comment on the arrest.
Todd’s arrest was first reported by WSMV-TV.
Todd sponsored a 2009 bill to allow people with handgun carry permits to bring their weapons into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, provided they don’t drink. The law passed despite opposition from law enforcement and district attorney groups, and easily survived a veto from former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen.
A judge later declared the law unconstitutionally vague. The Legislature passed a new version last year.
Todd, the chairman of the House State and Local Government Committee, is known for flashes of a quick temper. After Bredesen vetoed the original version of the guns in bars bill, Todd said: “I want to tell you what the governor can do with that piece of paper he just sent.”
Todd also drew national attention last year for saying in a committee hearing that illegal immigrants can “go out there like rats and multiply” after hearing that federal law requires the state to extend prenatal care to women regardless of their citizenship status because all children born in the U.S. are citizens.
Todd initially acknowledged that he used the wrong words and that he meant to say “anchor babies” — itself a term many consider offensive — but refused to apologize for the original remark.
Todd later changed course and said he would “apologize if the comment offended anyone.”
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Todd, 63, was booked into the Davidson County Jail at 12:38 a.m. today on three misdemeanor charges: Driving under the influence, possession of a handgun while under the influence and violation of the implied consent law. He was released on $3,000 bond this morning at 8:28 a.m.
Todd has been spending considerable time in Nashville and maintains residences in both cities. Before his election to the state House of Representatives in 1998, he was a president of the Memphis Police Association and worked as its legislative lobbyist. He is chairman of the House State and Local Government Committee, the gateway committee for all legislation affecting city and county governments and the operation of state government.
The affidavit fled by Metro arresting officers says Todd was stopped on a traffic stop and officers detected “an obvious and strong odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle.” Todd agreed to the officers’ request to step out of his vehicle. “Upon exit, the subject was extremely unsteady on his feet and attempted to lean himself up onto the vehicle. The subject stated that he had ‘2 drinks’ and agreed to perform FSTs (field sobriety tests),” the affidavit continues.
“The subject demonstrated numerous indicators of his impairment and officer noted that the subject was very unsteady on his feet (almost falling down at times), his speech was slurred, his eyes were red, watery and bloodshot and he had an obvious odor of alcohol about his person and on his breath as he spoke, all indicative of his intoxicated state,” it said.
After the test, Todd was read his Miranda rights and provisions of Tennessee’s implied consent law, which allows police to charge a driver who they believe intoxicated but who refuses to take an alcohol test. The affidavit said that Todd stated that he understood and refused to perform a breath alcohol test.
“In addition, it was learned that the subject was in possession of a loaded Smith & Wesson 38 special that was discovered in a holster stuffed in between the driver seat and the center console. The subject was obviously very impaired and not in any condition to be carrying a loaded handgun. Subject was transported to booking, gun was seized and turned into the property room and the vehicle was towed to the tow in lot,” according to the affidavit.
Todd was taken before a Metro General Sessions Court night commissioner after his booking for his initial appearance and bond was set at $3,000. He was released at 8:28 a.m.after posting bond.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 1 in Davidson County Criminal Court.