The Police Can Pull You Over, Even if They Don't Know Why, If the Court Can Find a Reason - DUI News - 7/29/2016

The Second District upholds a traffic stop where the officer initiates the stop under the erroneous belief that the driver was committing a lanes of travel violation of R.C. 4511.25, because the court believed he could have initiated the stop for a marked lanes violation ofR.C. 4511.33.

State v. Webb, 2016 Ohio 4896 (2d Dist.).

July 8, 2016

Webb was pulled over after Deputy Fizer claimed he observed her tires cross the dashed lines that separated the two west-bound lanes in which she was traveling.  There was video of the traffic stop, although it did not show Webb crossing the lines because, Fizer explained, it had not been started until after.  The video did, however, contradict Fizer's claim that Webb was slow to pull over and hit a curb when she did. 

After Webb was cited for an OVI and a "lanes of travel" violation of R.C. 4511.25, she filed a suppression motion.  The suppression hearing centered upon whether the deputy had a reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal activity to make the traffic stop.  The trial court found that he did and denied the suppression motion.

On appeal, Webb explained that Deputy Fizer did not have reasonable suspicion to initiate the traffic stop because the justification he gave was that he believed Webb was committing a lanes of travel violation of R.C. 4511.25, for which he ultimately cited her.  The Second District Agreed with Webb that she did not commit a violation of R.C. 4511.25, which addresses crossing a center line of traffic.  Here, Webb crossed the dashed white line. 

Although the Second District held that Deputy Fizer, "had no reasonable basis to believe that she had violated R.C. 4511.25," it upheld the traffic stop and conviction because it concluded that he could have had a reasonable suspicion that she was committing a marked-lanes violation of R.C. 4511.33, which requires a driver to drive, "as nearly as is practicable, entirely within a single lane or line of traffic and shall not be moved from such lane or line until the driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made with safety."  The Second District denied Webb's appeal, concluding that, "Although Fizer cited Webb under the wrong statute, the fact remains that he did observe an apparent traffic violation when he saw her fail to stay within her marked lane."