Marked Lane Violation: The Cases of Muller, Thomas, Parker, and Shaffer
Quick Answer: When a vehicle crosses a marked lane for reasons other than safety, you are able to pull someone over for a marked lane violation.
Each of these cases deals with a traffic stop under Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 4511.33(A)(1) for a marked lane violation that led to arrest on other criminal violations. In general, the law requires drivers to stay, as much as possible, within a single lane and to not move from their lane without first making sure it’s safe to do so.
Marked Lane Violation Case Law
State of Ohio v. Muller, Fifth Appellate District, Delaware County, July 29, 2013
A trooper watched Eugene Muller drive 10 miles under the speed limit and stated that he saw the car cross over the right white fog line by two to three tire widths. The court reviewed the footage from the dash camera and found that as Muller rounded a curve to the right, the right rear tire completely crossed the white fog line by one tire width. The court found that based on a totality of the circumstances, the trooper had a reasonable and articulable suspicion to stop Muller and upheld the OVI.
State of Ohio v. Thomas, Twelfth Appellate District, Warren County, Aug. 5, 2013
A deputy saw Winston Thomas’ vehicle slow down quickly, almost causing a collision, then drift over the marked center line and back into its original lane. Based on a totality of the circumstances, the deputy had reasonable and articulable suspicion to stop Thomas. Once the stop was made, drugs were found in the vehicle.
State of Ohio v. Parker, Sixth Appellate District, Ottawa County, Aug. 9, 2013
A trooper noticed a vehicle weaving several times inside the lane and pulled Matthew Parker over on a marked lane violation. At trial, the trooper testified that a marked lane violation generally occurred when a vehicle crossed a designated line on a roadway. After reviewing the dash camera footage, the court noted that Parker drove on the line a few times, but never crossed it; as a result, the trooper did not have a reasonable and articulable suspicion to stop Parker.
State of Ohio v. Shaffer, Third Appellate District, Paulding County, Aug. 19, 2013
A trooper pulled Kimberly Shaffer over after her passenger side tire drove onto and over the white fog line once for three seconds. The court looked at the language “as nearly as is practicable,” concluding that the statute doesn’t preclude all movement from the lane. For example, movement can be made to avoid debris or to initiate a safe lane change. It determined that without additional evidence of the surrounding circumstances, traffic, and road conditions, the act of Shaffer driving onto the white fog line one time for three seconds was not sufficient to establish reasonable and articulable suspicion. The court did not find the vehicle had gone over the line. The court also stated it would not adopt the “tire-rule” approach from the 11th District.
Why Are These Cases Important?
These four cases highlight four different courts’ views. Each came to the same conclusion on the law: The car MUST cross the line for a reason other than safety to be a proper marked lane violation. What that means: If a car merely drives on the line, near the line, or crosses over the line safely, there is no violation. What you are looking for is evidence that the driver is distracted, impaired, or driving recklessly. That could be weaving repeatedly over the line, crossing the center line when there is no one to pass, or driving way over the fog line. This is important because if you don’t pull someone over correctly, the remainder of the criminal actions may be thrown out. In half of these cases, the courts said the officers didn’t have enough cause to pull the drivers over.
Keep These Facts In Mind
When I obtain an officer’s report, dash cam, and interview, everything will come down to those few moments on the road when they made the decision to pull you over. It is my job to argue for you. There is nothing like putting less than five minutes of your life under a microscope for attorneys and the court to tear apart. A court’s job is to look at the facts of your case, look at the law, and determine if under your facts, the law was violated. And while different courts can come to different decisions based on similar facts, I can maximize the possibility of getting evidence suppressed by knowing the law cold.