Many of the OVI / DUI cases we see involve an allegation of a marked lanes violation. In these cases, the officer says that the reason for the stop is that the driver drove outside of his lane across the yellow line or the center line.
With the widespread use of cruiser dash cameras, these alleged violations can be confirmed or refuted. Put simply, does the dash cam footage support the officer’s claim that the driver drove outside his lane?
We have discussed marked lanes violations and the importance of cruiser dash cam video in several previous posts:
In another recent Ohio appellate case, an Ohio court again reiterated the importance of dash cam footage.
In State v. Ali, 2014-Ohio-3757, although the officer claimed that he pulled the driver over due to a marked lanes violation, his cruiser dash cam video did not show any violation.
Because the court found the officer testimony to be not credible and there was no marked lanes violation on the dash cam video, the court found no reasonable suspicion for the stop and all OVI charges were dismissed.
Officer Claims He Observed a Marked Lanes Violation and Arrests Driver for an OVI
In this case, the officer claimed he observed the driver’s vehicle cross the yellow fog line and drift across the center lane divider. The officer pulled him over, detected alcohol and eventually arrested him for OVI.
The driver was charged with OVI in violation of R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(a) and (A)(2), as well as with a marked lanes violation pursuant to R.C. 4511.33.
Marked Lanes – R.C. 4511.33(A)(1)
R.C. 4511.33(A)(1) provides that:
“Whenever any roadway has been divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for traffic, or wherever within the municipal corporations traffic is lawfully moving in two or more substantially continuous lines in the same direction, the following rules apply:
A vehicle * * * shall be driven, as nearly as is practicable, entirely within a single lane or line of traffic and shall not be moved from such lane or line until the driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made with safety.”
Dash Cam Video Did Not Show Marked Lanes Violation
At the suppression hearing, the officer testified that he first noticed the defendant’s vehicle because it was weaving within its lane.
After the officer accelerated and got closer, he observed the “driver side tires cross the yellow fog line by approximately two tire widths.” He further testified that he observed the defendant’s vehicle drift and cross the center lane divider “by approximately the same distance, two tire widths.”
The officer’s dash cam videotape of the stop was admitted into evidence. The officer acknowledged that the violations are not observable in the video but said that he observed the violations from 50 yards behind the defendant’s vehicle.
The trial court found, however, that the video indicates the officer’s cruiser was approximately 700 feet behind appellee’s vehicle, based on the officer’s rate of speed as he followed the defendant through an intersection before the stop.
OVI and Marked Lanes Charges Dismissed for Lack of Evidence & Lack of Reasonable Suspicion for the Stop
The trial court found that, based upon the dash-cam video and the officer’s testimony, there was no credible evidence of a marked lanes violation and no reasonable articulable suspicion that any criminal activity was occurring under the totality of the circumstances.
The appellate court also reviewed the dash cam video from the trooper’s patrol car and also found no evidence that the defendant crossed the lines of travel before he was stopped.
Because the alleged marked lanes violation was the only reason for the stop and that court found the evidence did not support a marked lanes violation, the motion to suppress was granted and the OVI charges were dismissed.
For the full text of the case – see State v. Ali, 2014-Ohio-3757