Improper Stops: Failure to Maintain Lane in Georgia

Truly the favorite of law enforcement officers who want to stop bar patrons everywhere. This “observation” alone is frequently not probable cause for detaining a driver. No car drives completely straight. There are various reasons a driver may drift or weave within a lane or even touch a lane marker.

Weaving within a lane, although not an offense, can justify a stop under some circumstances.  The Court of Appeals has consistently characterized the kind of driving that warrants a brief investigative detention as “erratic.” Somewhat more elusive is a definition of weaving in the Georgia case law, but the Oregon Court of Appeals has defined it as “…a continuous failure on the part of the driver to maintain a direct line of travel within his lane.”

Contact the office of Allen Trapp at 770-830-8560 if your arrest was based on a “failure to maintain lane.” One of the most experienced DUI attorneys in Georgia, he knows which defenses to use in these cases.

The failure to maintain lane statute in the Georgia Code, O.C.G.A. 40-6-48, has counterparts in every state, and these statutes employ identical or nearly identical language. The vast majority of courts have held that the purpose of the statute is to promote safety on roadways divided into traffic lanes – not to protect the integrity of lane markings. In other words, the statute is not violated unless a vehicle fails to stay within its lane and such movement is not safe or not made safely. Courts across the country have interpreted language identical to that in the Georgia statute as requiring more for a violation than a momentary crossing or touching of an edge or lane line.

What the law requires is that you drive your car within a clearly marked lane “as nearly as is practicable.”  Therefore, the requirement is diluted both by the use of the words “nearly” and “practicable.”  Courts around the country are nearly unanimous in recognizing that the kind of traffic stops we see frequently in West Georgia are simply contrary to the law.

Georgia case law on this issue is not entirely settled; the issue has simply never been properly briefed and argued before the Court of Appeals.  When that opportunity presents itself, we will be ready.

More Strategies to Win a DUI Trial in Georgia

Improper Stops

Improper Arrest

Improper Blood Test

Improper Breath Test

Procedural Mistakes and Other Tactics