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Theodore Gailan - Highly Skilled Attorney
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IMPROPER LANE USAGE AND D.U.I’s

November 07 2019

A great majority of D.U.I.’s begin with the stop of a vehicle for improper lane usage (ILU). A stop for ILU is valid if an officer sees a driver deviate from his/her established lane of travel. We are not speaking about weaving within a lane or driving erratically. We are speaking about driving as nearly as practicable within the driver’s lane. This matter was addressed in People v. Mueller, 2018 IL. APP (2d) 170863. In this case the arresting officer observed what he believed to be three lane violations. The first being the driver’s-side tires roll onto the yellow center line and touch it for a few seconds. The second being that after traveling some distance the driver’s passenger-side tires touched the white fog line but never crossed over it; the touching was only temporary. The third time was when the driver’s-side tires momentarily rode on the white fog line, but the tires never crossed over the line. Other than those three incidents, the driver did not violate any traffic laws.

Section 625 ILCS 5/11-709 states a vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from such lane until the driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made with safety. The issue in the instant case is whether the arresting officer had a reasonable suspicion that the driver failed to drive entirely within a single lane either when (1) the driver’s-side tires touched, but did not cross, the yellow center lane or (2) the passenger’s-side tires touched, but did not cross the white fog line.

The appellate court stated that dividing lines are legally and customarily used only to change lanes, turn or make other maneuvers. If a line’s purpose is to divide two lanes, then a vehicle has not changed lanes until it has crossed the line. Yellow center lines separate lanes of traffic moving in opposite directions. White lines are used to separate lanes of traffic moving in the same direction. It is not a reasonable interpretation of the statute to conclude that the legislature intended to prohibit drivers from merely touching the line painted at the edge of the roadway. (Not every road has a fog line; for those that do not, the roadway extends to the curb.) In cases involving center or dividing lines, courts have held that ILU requires actually crossing the line.

Therefore, the arresting officer, in the instant case, did not have a reasonable suspicion that the driver failed to drive entirely within a single lane. Consequently, the driver did not commit ILU, which means the officer had no right to stop the vehicle and to subsequently arrest the driver for a D.U.I.