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Veering Out of Your Lane: How Much Is Enough for Police to Stop You?

Many drivers who are charged with DUI/OVI offenses are initially stopped by the police for other traffic violations. One of the popular reasons for stopping a car is the claim that it veered over more than one lane in violation of the Ohio law that states that drivers must stay in their own lane unless they are safely changing lanes.

A recent example of an improper stop

Recently, an Ohio court warned police officers against being too hasty with their lane change traffic stops. In the early morning hours, a state trooper in Ottawa County stopped Matthew Parker alleging that the driver had been weaving from lane to lane. The trooper also charged him with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence. Parker claimed that he had committed no lane violation and the trooper had no right to stop him. Noting that the trooper lacked probable cause for the stop, Parker argued that the evidence supporting his subsequent DUI/OVI charge should be suppressed. After reviewing the trooper’s dash camera footage, the court agreed with Parker and noted that while Parker drove on the line a few times, he never crossed it, nor was there any evidence of weaving or reckless driving. Since the trooper had no reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing by Parker and no lawful reason to stop him, the court ordered the evidence suppressed.

If the stop was unlawful, evidence of your DUI/OVI charge may be suppressed

Under Ohio law, you commit a lane violation if your car crosses the line other than to safely passing another vehicle. If you drive a car on the line, near the line or over the line safely, there is no violation. If there is no evidence that you were distracted, impaired or driving recklessly, there is no valid reason to stop you. If the stop was unlawful, any subsequent DUI/OVI charge resulting from evidence at the scene of the stop is subject to being suppressed and cannot be used as proof against you.

If you are charged with a DUI/OVI, you should seek the services of attorneys who have extensive experience defending those offenses. The lawyers at the Columbus Ohio criminal defense firm of Yavitch & Palmer Co., LPA are highly skilled in handling these cases, beginning with an analysis of any illegality in the initial detention that might lead to dismissal of the charges.

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