Failure to use turn signal not a basis for stop, crossing double yellow line is in this DUI

Failure to use turn signal not a basis for stop, crossing double yellow line is in this DUI

In this Chattanooga DUI Officer David Allen began following a woman who was in the vicinity of a local bar.  He followed her for some distance noting that she failed to use a turn signal to indicate a turn and that she crossed the double yellow line of Chestnut Street.

street linesMs. Schoenthal pleaded guilty to DUI and took a certified question to the Court of Criminal Appeals on whether this was a lawful traffic stop by Officer Allen.  The appeals court found no problem with Ms. Schoenthal's turning without a turn signal since the road was virtually empty and it did not affect traffic (Judge Steelman made no findings against her on this basis either).  However, the court did have a problem with her crossing the center line and on that basis upheld the trial court's denial of the motion to suppress the traffic stop.

The Court of Criminal Appeals has previously stated that “we do not think that a momentary drift out of a lane constitutes driving a vehicle outside of a single lane.” Unfortunately for Ms. Schoenthal, the video here shows that she did more than momentarily and slightly weave out of her lane. Instead, the video reflects that the she crossed the double yellow line and, for a brief period of time, was traveling on the wrong side of the road before drifting back into her lane. The court found her crossing of the double yellow lines and briefly driving on the wrong side of the road amounted to more than simply poor driving and this supported Officer Allen's stop.

As this court has previously held, “a turn signal is only required by law when another vehicle may be affected by the turn.” 
State v. Gonzalez.

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