The undisputed evidence was that the defendant had driven through marked parking spaces and then proceeded to drive down the middle of a two-way street. All vehicles driven upon a roadway are required to drive in the right half of the road and failure to do so is a misdemeanor, in violation of O.R.C. § 4511.25.

State v. Rayle

2020 – Ohio – 1566

Third District Appellate Court

Defiance County, Ohio

April 20, 2020

On Thursday April 4, 2019, Officer Shane Bostic of the Hicksville Police Department witnessed a vehicle driven by Mr. Paul Rayle travel through a couple of diagonal parking spaces and the marking lines on East High Street at Maple Street in Hicksville. Mr. Rayle was traveling Eastbound on East High Street driving a 2002 blue Dodge pickup bearing Indiana TK750NOQ.

Mr. Rayle drove through these angled parking lines on East High Street in Hicksville, Ohio when he was initially observed by Officer Shane Bostic.

Officer Bostic observed the vehicle then turn right onto Maple Street and followed Mr. Rayle, attempting to run the license plate. Officer Bostic was unable to do so because he could not read the last few letters on the plate due to the glare. Officer Bostic continued to follow Mr. Rayle down Maple Street and turned left on Oak Street. According to Officer Bostic, Mr. Rayle traveled far enough into the left lane on Oak Street that any oncoming vehicles would have been forced off the road to avoid an accident. Officer Bostic then conducted a traffic stop because he believed that the driver was impaired.  The stop occurred at approximately 12:07 a.m.

Mr. Rayle drove too far to the left of Oak Street in violation of O.R.C. § 4511.25.  Though Oak Street does not have lines, drivers must still stay to the right.

As Officer Bostic approached the vehicle, he observed Mr. Rayle repeatedly reach underneath the driver’s seat. As Officer Bostic reached the driver’s window he observed the center console open and a pocket knife inside.  There was another, larger knife on the passenger seat.  Based on these observations Officer Bostic requested backup.

Eventually, Officer Bostic and a second officer removed Mr. Rayle from the vehicle and the officers observed a black baggie containing what appeared to be drugs on the driver’s seat where Mr. Rayle had been sitting. Mr. Rayle’s pants were unzipped and sagging when he stepped out of the vehicle and had an exaggerated walk. His gait was wider than shoulder width to assure his pants would not fall off.  Spoiler alert – this is a clue.

Officer Bostic performed a pat down for weapons and felt a pipe in Mr. Rayle’s pocket and a knife in his right pocket. At this time Officer Bostic placed Mr. Rayle under arrest for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Officer Bostic testified that Oak Street on which Mr. Rayle was traveling was a two-way street, but there were no lines on it. At the time of the stop, the conditions were dry and it was nighttime. Officer Bostic testified that there had been no obstructions that would have caused Mr. Rayle to swerve. The road did have traffic traveling on it at that time of night as several oncoming cars passed them during the stop. The dash cam video showed that Mr. Rayle crossed into the parking spaces prior to making the turn onto Maple Street and Mr. Rayle was driving in the center of the road multiple times. The vehicle was searched, and multiple baggies of substances presumed and later confirmed to be crystal meth were found inside several bags that were behind the back seat.  Also, inside the bags were several booklets printed by the Ku Klux Klan and other documents with swastikas.  Mr. Rayle was arrested on suspicion of possession of drugs and carrying a concealed weapon.

On April 25, 2019, the Defiance County Grand Jury indicted Mr. Rayle on:

1) Aggravated trafficking in drugs, in violation of R.C. 2925.03(A)(2), (C)(1)(c), a felony of the third degree

2) Aggravated possession of Drugs in violation of R.C. 2925.11(A), (C)(1)(b), a felony of the third degree

3) Carrying a concealed weapon in violation of R.C. 2923.12(A)(1), (F)(1), a misdemeanor of the first degree.

Mr. Rayle entered pleas of not guilty to all counts. On August 16, 2019, Rayle filed a Motion to Suppress alleging that the officer lacked probable cause to stop him.  On September 4, 2019, the trial court overruled the motion to suppress. On September 26, 2019, Mr. Rayle entered pleas of no contest to counts two and three. The first count of the indictment was dismissed. The trial court accepted the change of plea and found Mr. Rayle guilty of counts two and three and was sentenced to twenty-four months in prison. He appealed his conviction and the Third District Appellate court held “The undisputed evidence was that the defendant had driven through marked parking spaces and then proceeded to drive down the middle of a two-way street. All vehicles driven upon a roadway are required to drive in the right half of the road and failure to do so is a misdemeanor, in violation of O.R.C. § 4511.25.

O.R.C. § 4511.25 Lanes of travel upon roadways of sufficient widthstates in pertinent part “Upon all roadways of sufficient width, a vehicle or trackless trolley shall be driven upon the right half of the roadway.”.  There are five exceptions listed but none would have applied to Mr. Rayle.

This case was issued on April 20, 2020 by the Third District Court of Appeals which is binding on the following counties: Allen, Auglaize, Crawford, Defiance, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Logan, Marion, Mercer, Paulding, Putnam, Seneca, Shelby, Union, Van Wert and Wyandot.

Information for this article was obtained from State v. Rayle, 2020 – Ohio – 1566 and a phone interview with Officer Bostic on Thursday January 21, 2021.

Lessons Learned:

  1. What is significant about the Third District’s holding is that when there are no traffic lines on a street, law enforcement may conduct a traffic stop where the violator does not travel on the right half of the road, even if there is no on-coming traffic. That would be a violation of O.R.C. § 4511.25 (A) and stopping the driver would be objectively reasonable.
  1. This case, Rayle, should be contrasted against State v. Turner, 2020 – Ohio – 6773. In the Turner case the Supreme Court of Ohio held that when a driver touches a white fog line but does not cross it there is no traffic violation.  See Who was Right M.C. Hammer or the Supreme Court of Ohio? for more information. As Rayle and Turner are contrasted it once again provides a glimpse of just how hard the law enforcement profession is for officers.  In the Turner case just touching the white line is not enough reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle.  But if there are no traffic lines and the driver is not driving on the right half of the road, even with no on-coming traffic, that would be a violation of O.R.C. § 4511.25 (A) and the traffic stop would be objectively reasonable.
  1. Officer Bostic should be commended for recognizing the traffic violations and developing the stop into a felony drug investigation. Mr. Rayle cannot follow felony laws, but he cannot even follow traffic laws!  This is a classic example of how good law enforcement can remove a drug dealer from the street.  Well done Officer Bostic!

Does your agency train on Traffic Laws?

Don’t fail your training.

Don’t let your training fail you!

Be safe, smart and Objectively Reasonable!

Robert H. Meader Esq.