Legal Grounds - The FindLaw Legal News with an Attitude Blog

Tenn. Man Butt-Dials 911, Gets Arrested for Pot

A Tennessee man made an unfortunate butt-dial while talking about getting high: He called 911.

The Maury County 911 Center received a call Friday night, which police allege was from 25-year-old Grant O'Connor. Nashville's WKRN-TV reports that dispatchers could hear the pocket-dialer talking about "getting high and going to a drug dealer's house." The police traced the call and later arrested O'Connor on marijuana charges.

How did O'Connor butt-dial his way into an arrest?

Incriminating Dinner Conversation

Certainly there's nothing illegal about discussing marijuana policy or legalization, and in general, there are few laws that prohibit being high in public. However, when you talk about planning to buy and then use illicit drugs, your conversation may give officers probable cause to arrest and search you.

In O'Connor's case, he and a female friend were having dinner at Don Pepe's Mexican Restaurant where police allege that he accidentally made the 911 call. After hearing some hot pot talk from the 911 caller, dispatchers traced the call to the restaurant. WKRN reports that police arrived to find O'Connor and his female friend leaving the restaurant parking lot... in a car with a "tag light out."

Noticing a vehicle violation like a license plate light out, police may have had reasonable suspicion to stop the car. Once they did, officers reportedly found "a small bag of marijuana and drug paraphernalia underneath the passenger seat where O'Connor was sitting."

Based on news reports, it's questionable whether officers had enough probable cause to search under the seat to find these illicit items, but perhaps the combination of the 911 butt-call and their observations will suffice.

O'Connor was later charged with simple possession and possession of drug paraphernalia, and informed WKRN that he had "no idea" that he'd butt-dialed 911 until police told him.

Keep Your Phones Locked

We've all had a butt-dial or two happen, but nowadays smartphones are sophisticated enough (we hope) to prevent accidental dials simply by having a user "lock" his phone.

Of course, this wasn't the first time a suspect was ratted out by his or her own butt. In 2013, a pair of suspected burglars butt-dialed 911 as they planned and committed a break-in.

Regardless of how O'Connor's charges shake out, he may consider getting a new phone... or putting it in a different pocket.

Follow FindLaw for Consumers on Facebook and Twitter (@FindLawConsumer).

Related Resources: