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Media > Newsletters > Law Enforcement Bulletin > August 2016 > State v. Dowty, 2016 Ohio 4719

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State v. Dowty, 2016 Ohio 4719

Question: Does the Ohio Revised Code require a motorist to signal for at least 100 feet when turning from a private parking lot onto a roadway?

Quick Answer: No, given that many private parking lots would not allow a vehicle to even travel this far, stopping and activating a turn signal prior to entering the roadway complies with the statute.

Facts: A Dayton police officer observed a vehicle traveling in a private parking lot. As the vehicle reached the exit, the driver turned on the left-turn signal and then engaged the right-turn signal before proceeding onto the public roadway. The officer stopped the driver for a violation of a Dayton city ordinance which is identical to ORC 4511.39. After stopping the vehicle, the officer subsequently discovered Dowty with syringes and heroin in her possession. Dowty filed a motion to suppress the evidence, challenging the reasonable suspicion for the stop. During the hearing, the evidence was undisputed that the vehicle only traveled about 30 feet in the parking lot and the driver signaled a right-hand turn prior to the vehicle entering the roadway. The trial court determined the cited traffic violation does not require the activation of a turn signal 100 feet prior to entering a highway from a private parking lot, thus there was nothing that reasonably justified the stop. As a result, the court granted Dowty’s motion to suppress the evidence obtained from her. The state appealed and the appellate court noted that the vehicle did signal prior to entering the public roadway and there was no safety concern. Additionally, the court noted no reasonable interpretation of the statute would require a driver to signal for 100 feet in a parking lot that is only 30 feet long. Therefore, the trial court’s ruling was upheld and the evidence was suppressed.

Keep in Mind: This ruling specifically applies to vehicles traveling in private parking lots and not those traveling on public roadways.