San Diego DUI Law Center

A common issue in San Diego DUI cases requires attorneys to present cases to support the notion that the officer had no valid reason under case law to stop the driver based on purported weaving or straddling.

Weaving may be lawfully permitted, San Diego California DUI lawyers point out:

People v. Perez (1985) 175 Cal.App.3d Supp. 8, the court concluded that “ . . . the officer’s actions were proper and . . . that pronounced weaving within a lane provides an officer with reasonable cause to stop a vehicle on suspicion of driving under the influence where such weaving continues for a substantial distance.” (Perez, supra, at page 12; emphasis added). The driving in Perez was “pronounced” weaving—24” from side to side within the lane—continuously for three-quarters of a mile (Perez, at page 10).

And the observation was made by an officer with “extensive” training and experience and who also instructed other officers on DUI enforcement (at page 11)

(State v. Dorendorf (N.D. 1984) 359 N.W.2d 115 (weaving continuously for one-eighth to one-quarter of a mile);

(State v. Bailey (1981) 51 Or.App. 173 [624 P.2d 663] (four or five blocks);

Ebona v. State (Alaska 1978) 577 P.2d 698, (“continually weaving”)

United States v. Lyons (10th Cir. 1993) 7 F.3d 973, 976: “If failure to follow a perfect vector down the highway or keeping one’s eyes on the road were sufficient reasons to suspect a person of driving while impaired, a substantial portion of the public would be subject each day to an invasion of their privacy.”

People v. Bracken (2000) 83 Cal.App.4th Supp.1, the stop was justified based upon weaving within the lane that occurred for one-half mile and where the officer had previously qualified as an expert in cases involving driving under the influence.

Weaving cases from other jurisdictions where stops were held invalid include:

1. State v. Caron (Me. 1987) 534 A.2d 978 (invalid stop where vehicle’s brief, one time straddling of center line of undivided highway, with no on-coming traffic in sight and no vehicles passing on left, did not give rise to objectively reasonable suspicion of criminal activity);

2. U.S. v. Gastellum (D.Colo. 1996) 927 F.Supp.1386 (invalid stop where officers had observed vehicle weave once approximately one to three feet over right-hand shoulder white solid line for only a moment);

3. U.S. v. Smith (11th Cir. 1986) 799 F.2d 704 (stop invalid under Florida law where car’s right wheels crossed over white line about six inches into emergency lane and where car weaved slightly within its own lane);

4. Warrick v. Commissioner (1985) 374 N.W.2d 585, 586 (subtle weaving within driver’s own lane insufficient basis of reasonable articulable suspicion);

5. U.S. v. Gregory (1996, 10th Cir.) 79 F.3d 973 (driving 2’ into right shoulder emergency lane does not support reasonable suspicion that driver sleepy or intoxicated);

6. Salter v. North Dakota Dept. of Transportation (1993) 505 N.W.2d 111, 113 (weaved slightly within own lane while traveling 30-35 in a 50 zone; “The facts in this record suggest a mere hunch of illegal activity . . .”);

7. State v. Lafferty (1998) 967 P.2d 363 (driving over the right hand fog line is not a crime);

8. State v. Brite (1997) 698 N.E.2d 478 (stop invalid where driver drove over the right-hand edge lines of the road on two occasions during the span of a mile).

9. Rowe v. Maryland, 363 Md. 424, 769 Atl.2d 879 (2001), the Court of Appeals of Maryland analyzed the stop of a vehicle for failing to properly drive in a single lane under their statute listed as §21-309(B). Defendant Rowe was observed by Trooper Jones traveling between 50 to 54 miles per hour in a 65 mile per hour zone, crossing the white edge line onto the shoulder by about 8 inches and then swerving back into his lane of travel, the vehicle again driving over the white edge line and coming back into his lane of travel which was characterized by Trooper Jones as having “swerved or weaved back onto the white shoulder edge line once again.” These driving observations were offered to legally justify the basis of the initial stop of defendant Rowe’s vehicle. The Maryland court determined that the plain language of their statute meant that the purpose of the statute was to promote safety on lined roadways with a vehicle to be driven as much as “possible” in a single lane. The Maryland court ruled that defendant Rowe’s manner of driving the vehicle and the crossing of the edge lines did not amount to unsafe driving to other vehicles or people and thus, could not support the initial traffic stop in the case.

10. Montana v. Lafferty, 291 MT 157, 967 P.2d 363 (1998). In Lafferty, the police obtained a call from an anonymous individual indicated there was a drunk driver in a certain area driving a Ford pickup and providing a partial license plate number. Defendant Lafferty’s vehicle was then observed crossing the fog line to the right twice and driving on the fog line on another occasion. This driving was described by the arresting officer as “not normal traffic procedure.

” The court in Lafferty determined that the defendant’s driving was not “illegal” and ruled the initial stop of the vehicle as not legally justified.
Another case relied upon by the court in Rowe was
11. State v. Cerny, 28S.W.3d 796 (Tx.App. 2000), wherein the Court of Appeals of Texas determined that a car that weaves within its own lane of traffic does not justify a legal stop by law enforcement.

12. Hernandez v. State, 983 S.W.2d 867 (Tx.App. 1998) determined that a vehicle that drove 18 inches across a lane divider (out of its main lane of travel) did not justify a stop in violation of Section 545.060 of the Texas Transportation Code. In both cases the Texas court determined that driving must be unsafe to other vehicles or people already on the road.

13. State v. Drogi 96 Ohio App.3d 466 (1994), The Ohio Court of Appeals in Drogi determined that the actions of the vehicle in driving with the left front tires one foot over the centerline, then moving towards the right edge line, close to that line and eventually crossing the right edge line was not sufficient driving to warrant a violation of R.C. 4511.33 to justify a legal and valid initial stop of the defendant’s vehicle. This was due to the fact that the driving did not threaten or endanger any other persons or property.

14. The Court of Appeals in Williams State v. Williams, 86 Ohio App.3d 37, 619 N.E.2d 1141 (1993) determined that the actions of a vehicle driving over the left lane line divider by one tire width around a curve and then again into the left lane by one tire width just before a turn was not a statutory violation of R.C. 4511.33(A) to justify a legal stop of the vehicle. Again, the Ohio Court determined that the actions of the defendant’s vehicle in Williams did not cause or threaten to cause harm to himself, the officer or others to justify the initial stop of the vehicle.

15. The Ohio Appellate Court in Gullett State v. Gullet, 78 Ohio App.3d 138, 604 N.E.2d 176 (1992). determined that two crossings of the vehicle over the right edge line were not sufficient to be considered a violation of R.C. 4511.33 to allow for a lawful stop of the vehicle.

16. In Caron, 534 A.2d 978 (1987) the Supreme Court of Maine determined that a vehicle straddling the centerline for 25 to 50 yards did not justify a lawful and legal stop of said vehicle by law enforcement. The court looked to the fact that there was no oncoming traffic in sight and no other vehicles on the roadway at the time to, in essence, create safety concerns.

17. In Gregory, 79 F.3d 973 (10th Cir. 1996) the 10th Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals determined that crossing into the emergency (shoulder) lane of a roadway was not in violation of Utah Code Annotated, Section 41-6-61-(1) to justify a legal and lawful stop of the Gregory vehicle due to the fact that it created no danger of collision towards any other vehicles.

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