Marked Lanes Violations in Ohio


 I was charged with both an OVI (DUI) and a marked lanes violation. What is a marked lanes violation?

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:

  • 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. 

Additional Defenses to Marked Lanes Charge

Other potential defenses to a marked lanes ticket include situations where is is not “practicable” to remain in your lane.  This includes:

  • Moving outside of lane to avoid hitting road debris
  • Driving around a parked car
  • Crossing the yellow line to avoid hitting a child or an animal

What is the Penalty for a Marked Lanes Violation in Ohio?

By itself, marked lanes is usually a minor misdemeanor in Ohio.   This means that it would carry no jail time, up to a $15o fine and two points on your license.

However, if you have been convicted or found guilty of one “predicate” traffic offense in the previous year, the marked lanes violation is considered a fourth degree misdemeanor.  This means that potential penalties could include up to 30 days in jail and a 150 fine.

If you have been convicted or found guilty of two “predicate” traffic offenses in the previous year, your marked lanes violation will be a third degree misdemeanor.  This means that penalties could include up to 60 days in jail and a 500 fine.

Predicate traffic offenses can include essentially any traffic violation.  Examples include: speeding, running a red light, driving left of center, not stopping at a crosswalk, etc.

If you have been charged with an Ohio marked lanes violation or a marked lanes and DUI charge, contact our Columbus marked lanes OVI attorneys for advice regarding your charge.  Depending on the facts of your case, there may be some defenses available to your Ohio marked lanes charge that we can explore.

Call for a free marked lanes or OVI consultation with our Columbus marked lanes attorneys at (614) 361-2804.