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Fifth District Appeals Court Maintains Conviction Despite Faulty Traffic Sign

22 Aug , 2019  

It’s a case where you may win the battle, but boy, you’ve lost the war.

The Ohio Fifth District Court of Appeals has ruled that despite what may have been an invalid traffic stop in Mansfield, that a valid OMVI/driving under the influence citation can result from the same stop.

The defendant in the case had argued that the police action was invalid because the traffic sign was itself faulty, and that his OMVI citation was also improper. Hezekiah Norman had turned left from the right lane of Trimble Road even though the sign showed that left turns could only be made from the center lane. The sign, as demonstrated by the defendant showed, was not of the correct height as per applicable standards under Ohio law.

It its opinion, which can be read here, the Court stated that, “…probable cause is not required to make a traffic stop, rather the standard is reasonable and articulable suspicion.”

It added, “It  would  be  unreasonable  for  this  Court  to  conclude  that  in  the  usual  instance  a  law  enforcement  officer  is  constitutionally  required  to  ensure  that  a  traffic  control  sign’s  size  or  height  measurement  is  OMUTCD-compliant  before  effectuating  a  traffic stop for a suspected violation of R.C. 4511.12. Upon review, we find no error… in the trial court’s denial of the motion to suppress on the question of the trooper’s initial stop of appellant’s vehicle.”

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