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Ohio Supreme Court Clarifies ‘Marked Lanes’ Rule For DUI Cases

In DUI cases across the country, one of the most frequent reasons drivers are pulled over is for a Marked Lanes violation. Laws related to this offense vary from state-to-state. If a police officer observes a Marked Lanes violation, the officer is permitted to make a traffic stop. In Ohio, there has been confusion about what constitutes a Marked Lanes violation. That confusion was recently clarified by a case in the Ohio Supreme Court.

The Case Makes its Way to the Ohio Supreme Court
The case is State v. Turner. In that case, an officer observed the defendant drive on, but not over, a lane line. The officer stopped the defendant and ultimately charged him with DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio). The defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence, claiming that, because he did not actually drive over the lane line, the officer was not authorized to make a traffic stop.

The judge agreed and granted the defendant’s motion. The prosecution appealed to the Court of Appeals, and the Court of Appeals reversed the judge’s decision. The defendant appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court. The Ohio Supreme Court accepted the case to clarify conflicting decisions from Ohio appellate courts.

The Supreme Court Clarifies the Confusion
The Ohio Supreme framed the issue in terms of the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices. That Manual states, “A solid line discourages or prohibits crossing (depending on the specific application)”. The Court reasoned that, because the Manual prohibits crossing the line, touching or driving on the line is not a Marked Lanes violation.

Did the Officer Make a Reasonable Mistake?
The analysis does not end there. Rather than excluding evidence based on an unlawful stop, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the appellate court to determine whether the officer’s mistake was reasonable. If so, the stop would not be unlawful.

The officer’s mistake does not seem reasonable. Officers enforcing traffic laws should know what is prohibited. The Manual clearly does not prohibit touching a lane line. Therefore, the officer in this case should have known that Turner’s driving on, but not over, the lane line did not authorize a traffic stop.

About the Author:  Shawn Dominy is a leading DUI lawyer in Ohio and the founder of the Dominy Law Firm in Columbus, Ohio.  He can be reached through his law firm’s website:  Dominy Law Firm.

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Shawn Dominy

Shawn Dominy

Shawn Dominy is a DUI/OVI lawyer in Columbus, Ohio. He is the former President of the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the state delegate to the National College for DUI Defense and a long-time member of the National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers. Shawn Dominy authored the books 'Ohio DUI/OVI Guide', 'Ohio Vehicular Homicide Guide', and 'Ohio Vehicular Assault Guide' (Rivers Edge Publishing) and wrote a chapter in the book 'Defending Vehicular Homicide Cases' (Aspatore Publishing, 2012). He has several other published articles, and he speaks regularly at seminars teaching other lawyers about DUI/OVI. Shawn was named by SuperLawyers® as one of the top 50 lawyers in Columbus, Ohio, and he is listed as one of the 'Best Lawyers in America'® for DUI Defense. Shawn is a lifelong resident of central Ohio: he graduated from Olentangy High School and earned his bachelor’s degree and juris doctor from The Ohio State University. His office is in Columbus, and he lives in Powell with his wife and daughter. He serves with local community organizations, volunteers regularly at his church, and plays regularly with his German Shepherd. For more information, Shawn’s website is www.dominylaw.com, his blog is www.columbusoviattorneyblog.com,

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