Talk to lawyer before entering a drunk driving plea

Published 5:48 am Sunday, April 18, 2021

Dear Lawyer Mark: I got pulled over on the highway recently, and the police made me get out of the car.
After I took some tests, he busted me for DUI.
I only had a couple beers with dinner, and know I wasn’t drunk.
When I asked him why he pulled me over, he said I was driving too slow (even though no one else was behind me), and that I had driven on the white line on the right-hand side.
I ended up pleading guilty to the DUI when I went to court just to get it over with, but then got to thinking about being stopped.
Can he really pull me over for that? — Suspended Driver
Dear Suspended: First, you should never plead guilty to an OVI (what we call a DUI in Ohio) without talking to a lawyer, as it can never be sealed, can impact your insurance rates and job prospects, can impact any professional licenses you may hold, and will cause you to have a driver’s license suspension.
If you cannot afford to privately hire a lawyer due to income limitations, the court will appoint one for you at your arraignment.
If the officer did not have the right to pull you over, then any evidence the officer collected during the stop cannot be used against you if your lawyer files a “motion to suppress” that is granted by the court.
If that happens, the state most likely will not be able to convict you of the OVI.
In your specific case, the right of the officer to pull you over hinges upon a couple factors: your actual speed versus the posted speed limit and conditions and whether your tires actually crossed the white fog line.
You indicated that you were on the highway, so the speed limit was most likely 55 or 60 mph, depending on where you were.
Under Ohio Revised Code section 4511.22, a person cannot drive “at such an unreasonably slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, except when stopping or reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or to comply with law.”
Because no one was behind you, you were not blocking or impeding traffic.
In some places in Ohio, there are minimum speed limits.
However, we have none in Lawrence County.
As to the white fog line, there was much litigation in Ohio about whether drifting onto the white fog line while driving, but not crossing it, was marked lanes violation.
The Ohio Supreme Court recently settled this matter in the case State v. Turner, when it ruled that under the current statutes it is OK to drive on the fog line, as long as your tires do not cross it.

It’s The Law is written by attorney Mark K. McCown in response to legal questions received by him. If you have a question, please forward it to Mark K. McCown, 311 Park Avenue, Ironton, Ohio 45638, or e-mail it to him at The right to condense and/or edit all questions is reserved.

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