In Ohio, it’s common for police to pull a driver over for what’s known as a marked lanes violation any time they suspect the driver might be under the influence. This could result in a lane violation ticket or even a DUI charge in Columbus. A marked lanes violation is essentially an allegation that you crossed one of the lines that defines a single lane of driving. That could be the stripe separating you from the shoulder, or it could be the double yellow lines that separate your lane from traffic coming from the opposite direction.
Law enforcement officers may interpret straying outside of your lane as a sign that you’re impaired, and if they smell any alcohol or observe any other signs of impairment, you might find yourself charged with a Columbus DUI — even if your blood alcohol concentration is under the Ohio legal limit.
Even without an allegation of driving under the influence, a Columbus lane violation ticket can be a serious matter if you have other traffic infractions on your record. When you have even a single prior moving violation within the past year, you face the possibility of serving jail time when convicted of a marked lanes violation. However, an experienced Columbus traffic attorney may be able to help you fight your Ohio lane violation ticket and get your marked lanes violation charge dismissed or your penalties reduced, depending on the circumstances of your case.
What is a Marked Lanes Violation?
It its most basic, Ohio Revised Code 4511.33 requires that drivers stay in their lanes as much as is possible, and unless it’s safe to legally pass by using another lane. The statute also prohibits drivers from using designated center lanes for anything but safe, legal passing, left turns, or when there is a sign posted directing traffic to use the center lane, such as in a construction zone. The statute further requires drivers to obey signs that designate bus-only lanes during particular hours.
A violation could involve:
- Swerving or straying outside of the stripes marking the lane in which you’re driving
- Driving in the center lane when you’re not passing another driver, making a left turn, or haven’t been directed there
- Changing lanes in a zone where signs are posted that prohibit lane changes
- Driving in a lane designated for buses
Penalties for a Marked Lanes Violations
On its own, a simple marked lanes violation is a minor misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $150. However, if you’ve had other moving violations known as predicate offenses within the year preceding your Columbus lane violation ticket, you may be charged with a more serious misdemeanor.
The term “predicate offenses” covers a range of motor vehicle and traffic offenses that includes most moving violations. An experienced Columbus traffic attorney can explain how your past tickets might affect the outcome and possible penalties for your current marked lanes violation.
- One Prior Violation — You may be charged with a fourth-degree misdemeanor. The possible penalties include up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $250.
- Two or More Prior Violations — You may be charged with a third-degree misdemeanor. The possible penalties include up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
Other Consequences of a Marked Lanes Violations
A marked lanes violation can bring consequences other than fines or possible jail time, especially if you have a driving history that includes multiple infractions.
- Drivers License Points — A marked lanes violation is a 2-point offense in Ohio. If you already have points on your license from previous offenses, the additional 2 points may result in a warning from the BMV if you already have at least 5 points on your license. If the Ohio lane violation ticket puts you at 12 or more points, the BMV is required to suspend your driver’s license for 6 months.
- DUI — If you were pulled over for a marked lanes violation and charged with a DUI for being impaired, the marked lanes violation can be used to support the traffic stop in your DUI case and to demonstrate that you were driving while impaired. Defending DUI cases often may involve challenging the legality of traffic stops, and if you plead guilty to or are convicted of the marked lanes violation, that may make it harder to fight the DUI case.
- Insurance Rates — When you get a moving violation, your car insurance company may decide to raise your rates because it may consider you a greater risk to insure.
- Driving Record — If your employer or a potential employer pulls your driving record, your marked lanes violation will show up and may affect your job or potential job if it involves driving. Some employers may view a marked lanes violation on your driving record as a liability risk.
- Civil Liability — If your marked lanes violation was related to a traffic accident, a guilty plea or conviction may be used against you in a civil lawsuit as evidence that you were negligent.
How a Columbus Traffic Ticket Attorney Can Help You Beat a Lane Violation Ticket
Even when your marked lanes violation is a simple infraction with a relatively small fine, there may be good reasons to fight the ticket, such as to prevent some of the consequences noted above. Paying a ticket is the same as entering a guilty plea, and the ticket will go onto your record. If you’re being charged with a fourth-degree or third-degree misdemeanor, fighting the charge may allow you to avoid jail time.
Defending yourself against the Columbus lane violation ticket might prevent your insurance rates from going up, or might be beneficial if you face a DUI charge or civil lawsuit stemming from the marked lanes violation. In the long run, higher vehicle insurance premiums or a lawsuit judgment might cost you more than it would to hire a lawyer to try to beat the marked lanes violation ticket.
An experienced Columbus traffic attorney can review your situation and recommend options for your defense. Some strategies for fighting a marked lanes violation may include:
- Crossing for Safety — You may have a defense to an allegation of a marked lanes violation if you crossed the yellow line for safety reasons, such as to avoid debris in the road or to avoid colliding with another car.
- Good Driving History — If you have a clean driving record, your lawyer may be able to convince a prosecutor or judge to reduce your Ohio lane violation ticket to one with no points on your license, or to dismiss the charge if you perform conditions such as paying court costs or attending a good driver program.
Cited with a Columbus Lane Violation Ticket? Contact us.
If you have received a ticket for veering into marked lanes, contact us for a free consultation with a Columbus traffic attorney. We are available 24/7 to answer your questions and help you avoid points on your license as well as other consequences. Contact our Columbus traffic violation lawyers today at (614) 500-3836 or email us at [email protected].