Ohio DUI: A Little Drift Justifies a Stop (State v. Mays)
The Supreme Court of Ohio ruled last September that a momentary drift a few inches over the white line at the edge of the road is sufficient grounds for a police officer to pull over an otherwise safe driver. The ruling upheld the conviction of Christopher Mays who had been stopped by a state trooper on Route 16, a four-lane highway near Newark, on March 26, 2006.
“The question of whether appellant might have a possible defense to a charge of violating R.C. 4511.33 is irrelevant in our analysis of whether an officer has a reasonable and articulable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop,” Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer wrote for the unanimous court. “An officer is not required to determine whether someone who has been observed committing a crime might have a legal defense to the charge…. In conclusion, a traffic stop is constitutionally valid when a law enforcement officer witnesses a motorist drift over the lane markings in violation of R.C. 4511.33, even without further evidence of erratic or unsafe driving.”
Ohio v. Mays (Supreme Court of Ohio, 9/16/2008)
Source: www.thenewspaper.com, http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/25/2555.asp