6/18/2013Ohio Appeals Court: Signal Not Needed If Driving Straight
Ohio Court of Appeals strikes down attempt of county prosecutor to ticket motorists for failure to signal while driving in a straight line.
Motorists driving in a straight line do not need to use their turn signal. That's the conclusion Ohio's second highest court reached on June 7 while reviewing the opinion of the Erie County Municipal Court, which had found otherwise regarding the traffic stop of Cory A. Paseka on December 29, 2011.
Paseka had been heading west on Lima Sandusky Road (State Route 6) in Erie County where the road forks. Those wishing to continue on Lima Sandusky Road must veer to the left, otherwise continuing straight ahead places the driver on Wahl Road. Paseka continued straight onto Wahl Road, and for that he saw the flashing lights of a police officer behind him. He was pulled over for failure to use a turn signal.
"No person shall turn a vehicle... or move right or left upon a highway unless and until such person has exercised due care to ascertain that the movement can be made with reasonable safety nor without giving an appropriate signal in the manner hereinafter provided," Ohio Code 4511.39 states. "When required, a signal of intention to turn or move right or left shall be given continuously during not less than the last one hundred feet traveled by the vehicle... before turning."
Erie County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin J. Baxter insisted that the point at which Wahl Road and Lima Sandusky Road meet constitutes an "intersection" and therefore a signal is required. The appellate judges did not buy that line of reasoning.
"Westbound Wahl and Route 6 do not join at an angle, and further, vehicles traveling westbound on Wahl or on Route 6 do not come into conflict," Judge Arlene Singer wrote for the Court of Appeals. "It is undisputed that appellant's straight-ahead entrance onto Wahl Road did not require him to turn his vehicle, nor did it require him to switch into a different lane. As such, we fail to see how appellant violated R.C. 4511.39. Finding that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to stop appellant's vehicle, appellant's sole assignment of error is found well-taken. The judgment of the Erie County Municipal Court is reversed."
Because the initial traffic stop was not valid, the evidence that Paseka had been intoxicated was suppressed. A copy of the decision is available in a 30k PDF file at the source link below.