The Sixth District holds that a traffic stop is valid when a traffic violation is observed, even if the officer incorrectly issues a citation for a different traffic violation.
December 11, 2015
Jackson was pulled over for a traffic stop when an officer observed him crossing white dashed lines separating two westbound lanes on multiple occasions without using signal indicators. As a result of the traffic stop, Jackson was ultimately charged with and convicted of an OVI with three priors in six years.
The trial court denied Jackson's motion to suppress, which was based on an argument that the traffic stop was invalid because he did not violate the Ohio Revised Code section that he was charged with. There was no dispute that the officer erroneously charged Jackson with violating left of center (R.C. 4511.25) when the appropriate charge should have been a marked lanes violation (R.C. 4511.33). The trial court denied the motion to suppress and the 6th District affirmed after reviewing the following standards for traffic stops:
An investigative stop of a motorist does not violate the Fourth Amendment if the officer has a reasonable suspicion based upon "specific and articulable facts" that the individual is engaged in criminal activity. Reasonable suspicion constitutes something less than probable cause. The propriety of an investigative stop must be viewed in light of the totality of the circumstances.
The 6th District reasoned that, regardless of whether the officer issued a citation for the correct violation, he did witness a traffic violation, and therefore the traffic stop was valid.