In many DUI cases in Ohio, the reason for the traffic stop is a marked lanes violation. Basically, this means that the officer believes you swerved across the yellow line or the white fog line.
The reason the facts surrounding your marked lanes violation is important is because it could potentially affect the outcome of your DUI charge. If the marked lanes stop was invalid, then the entire stop is invalid and your case could be thrown out.
Under Ohio law (R.C. 4511.33), if you are driving on a road that has multiple lanes, you are required to drive, as nearly as is practicable, “entirely within a single lane or line of traffic” and cannot move from that lane “until the driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made with safety.”
The Ohio Supreme Court clarified the marked lanes law in 2008 in State v. Mays, 2008-Ohio-4539. In that case, the Court held that a stop is valid when an officer sees a driver drift over lane markings even where there is no erratic or unsafe driving.
For example, a courts have found a driver guilty of a marked lanes violation where the driver drove:
- Over the “’white fog line’ by at least one tire width.” State v. Brown, 2016-Ohio-1453.
- Where the officer observed the “vehicle drifting back-and-forth across an edge line.” State v. Mays, 119 Ohio St.3d 406, 2008-Ohio-4539, 894 N.E.2d 1204, at ¶16.
- Where the vehicle “drifted across the white fog line.” Id.
This Ohio Supreme Court has also weighed in on the issue. Ultimately made it’s final decision to settle the law on marked lanes violations.
Are OVI Cases Ever Thrown Out Based on an Unreasonable Marked Lanes Stop by Police?
Ohio courts have interpreted Ohio’s marked lanes law to mean that in order to be guilty of a marked lanes violation, your car must go completely over both yellow lines on the road. If you swerved onto and touched the line, that’s not enough.
For example, in the cases below, the OVI charge was thrown out because the alleged marked lanes violation was not established:
- Dismissed OVI charge because the reason for the traffic stop – marked lanes – was invalid. In that case, the driver touched the yellow line with his SUV, but never crossed over it. The court found this was not a marked lanes violation.
- Dismissed OVI charge because the marked lanes violation was not established. In that case, the driver “straddled the center lane” with his turn signal on while merging from one lane to another. The court found that this was not a marked lanes violation.
- Dismissed OVI charge because the prosecutor failed to present any evidence at the hearing that the driver “failed to ascertain the safety” of moving over the fog line (the white line) before doing so.
- Dismissed OVI charge where cruiser dash cam footage did not show a marked lanes violation by the driver.