Getting a DUI charge is a very serious thing. There is mandatory jail time, there is a mandatory fine, and there is a mandatory driver’s license suspension. But for a DUI charge to stick, none of your Constitutional rights can be violated. One of these rights is the right to be free from arrest (restriction of movement) unless an officer has a reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred. For your average DUI defense attorney, this an issue that is litigated every day.
We all know people that have gotten DUIs or been pulled over and investigated for DUI for stupid things. A broken tail light. Not using a turn signal. Expired tabs. Following too closely. But does weaving within or even slightly out of your lane of travel count? Read on to find out.
In Washington State the court was faced with just this circumstance. A guy was driving on the highway in Seattle and took an exit off the freeway. As he took the exit, he crossed the eight inch white line dividing the exit land from lane next to it by approximately two tire widths for about one second. He was pulled over and then arrested for DUI.
The court in that case found that pulling the guy over for barely crossing over the white line was not enough. The reason is this, the rules don’t say that you have to be in your lane at all times, but within your lane as nearly as practicable. This indicates that some movement outside of the lane may occur from time to time.
In order for the cops to lawfully pull you over in Seattle there needs to be more than just a minor incursion over the lane line. There needs to be the actual commission of a traffic infraction or the reasonable believe that someone isDUI (and minor incursions aren’t enough since the Legislature contemplates everyone doing it at one time or another).
In the end the court decided to dismiss the charges, finding the guy was stopped illegally.
The moral of this story is that theoretically you cannot get a Seattle DUI for minor weaving in your lane. That doesn’t mean a cop won’t pull you over for it and make your DUI attorney fight it out with the prosecutor. But it does mean that in the eyes of the law, weaving within your lane and occasionally just outside it is not enough for a traffic stop.