Will failure to proceed on green provide reasonable suspicion?

Ohio’s Fifth District Court of Appeals considered an OVI case wherein the police stopped the suspect merely because he did not go right when the light turned green. Rather, the suspect waited about 5 or 6 seconds before moving. The trial court found that this was sufficient basis for a stop of the vehicle but the Defendant appealed the failure to grant his motion to suppress up to Ohio’s Fifth District Court of Appeals.

But in State v. Beghin, 2004 Ohio 2654, the Fifth District Court of Appeals overturned the trial court’s failure to suppress the evidence of this stop. The Court noted that there is nothing illegal about not immediately moving forward once the light turns green. The Court reasoned that “although one may be stopped for going substantially under the speed limit, generally such a defendant has been found to have been seriously impeding traffic or going unreasonable slow to create a safety risk before a stop is justified.” Since in this case there was no showing that traffic was seriously impeded or that the failure to go immediately as the light turned green created a safety risk, then it was inappropriate for the police to have pulled the suspect over.

If you have been charged with drunk driving and you need an attorney in Ohio, you can call me at 614.580.4316 or you can email me at eewillison@earthlink.net. Also, be advised that if my phone rings at 1 or 2 in the morning because you are calling from the roadside in a panic, I will answer it.