Saturday, January 20, 2007

Everybody crosses the line now and then

Nathan Webb and Washburn student intern William Drexler won in State v. Ross, No. 94,503 (Jan. 19, 2007), reversing a Harvey County drug conviction. The COA held that just crossing the white line on the side of the road does not by itself constitute a violation of K.S.A. 8-1522 and does not, therefore, provide a justification for a traffic stop:
Automobiles are not railway locomotives. They do not run on fixed rails. Obviously, K.S.A. 8-1522(a) does not prohibit a vehicle from changing lanes. A driver is permitted to exercise, rather is required to exercise, discretion in deciding when and whether to change lanes. We need not drive through a pothole in the road and damage our vehicle in the process when we may safely avoid it by changing lanes or moving partially onto the shoulder of the roadway. K.S.A. 8-1517 permits us to leave our regular lane of travel to pass a slower moving vehicle when we overtake it. A stalled automobile or a fallen tree limb in the roadway ahead does not require us to wait for its removal. We drive around it.
Here is a link to a post on including this case. I've seen this issue in at least one other case, so I bet it is in some others.

[Update: the state filed a PR on February 20, 2007].

[Update: the KSC denied the PR and the mandate issued on June 22, 2007].

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