By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State Rep. Curry Todd can keep his handgun carry permit despite being indicted on drunken driving and weapons charges, the state Safety Department said Tuesday.
Safety spokeswoman Jennifer Donnals said the Collierville Republican can continue to be armed in public while the case is pending. A drunken driving conviction would cause the permit to be suspended for one year, she said.
Todd, 64, is a retired Memphis police officer and a chief architect of a state law to allow handgun carry permit holders to be armed in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.
He was arrested during a Nashville traffic stop in October after failing a roadside sobriety test. A loaded .38-caliber gun was found stuffed in a holster between the driver’s seat and center console.
The Tennessean newspaper first reported that a Nashville grand jury Friday returned indictments against Todd on charges of drunken driving, possession of a firearm while under the influence and violating the state’s implied consent law for refusing a breath alcohol test.
Todd did not immediately return a message from The Associated Press seeking comment. But his attorney, Worrick Robinson, told The Tennessean that the indictments were “part of a normal process.”
“We have been expecting this to happen at some point. We’ll address the issues and the charges when required in court,” he said.
It is unclear where he was coming from when his SUV was pulled over on Oct. 11 for swerving and traveling 60 mph in a 40 mph zone in a neighborhood near Vanderbilt University.
Nashville restaurateur Randy Rayburn, a staunch critic of the guns-in-bars measure, said Todd’s arrest speaks against the trend of loosening firearms restrictions in Tennessee.
“Rep. Todd is the poster child for why alcohol and guns don’t mix in bars, cars, school-grounds, employer parking lots nor parks and athletic fields,” Rayburn said in an email.
“As an elected representative, he should be held to the highest strict constructionist judicial standards allowed, so as not to encourage similar behavior by the public across this state.”
After a brief court appearance in November, Todd told assembled reporters that “everybody’s capable of making a mistake,” and called the arrest uncharacteristic.
Todd apologized to his family, friends, constituents, legislative colleagues and the governor.
“And that’s it,” Todd said in wrapping up his brief remarks. “I will move on from this and make a better person of myself and my life.”
Todd in April ducked out of a House floor session just before a vote on a bill to allow judges to compel blood tests from drivers who refuse to submit breath alcohol tests when they are arrested.
Harwell announced after the 52-33 vote in favor of the bill that Todd had been excused for an unspecified illness. Gov. Bill Haslam later signed the bill into law.