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Failure to Maintain Lane

O.C.G.A. § 40-6-48 states that "a vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane." It prohibits drivers from leaving their lane until they have determined that a lane change can be made safely.

Examples of Failure to Maintain Lane in Georgia

What is considered a violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-48, the Failure to Maintain Lane statute in Georgia? Here are some examples:

Crossing over the center line can form the basis for a citation under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-48. See Arsenault v. State, 257 Ga.App. 456, 571 S.E.2d 456 (2002).

Even just touching the line can be considered a violation of the law. See Kuehne v. State, 274 Ga.App. 668, 618 S.E.2d 702 (2005).

Even if police do not directly see a car failing to maintain its lane, circumstantial evidence can provide sufficient proof for a conviction. For example, in Shlanger v. State, the court found that the "fact that the defendant's vehicle exited the roadway before coming to rest upside down in an adjacent gore" provided enough evidence that the driver failed to maintain their lane. Shlanger v. State, 290 Ga.App. 407, 659 S.E.2d 823 (2008).

Making a wide turn that crosses over the line can be considered Failure to Maintain Lane. See King v. State, 317 Ga.App. 834, 733 S.E.2d 21 (2012).

Failure to Maintain Lane & DUI

Failure to Maintain Lane and DUI are two separate offenses. However, they are frequently charged together as part of a single case. This is because a vehicle failing to maintain its lane is easily noticed by police. Once a driver is stopped for failing to maintain his or her lane, an officer can then start to build a DUI case. Stops for Failure to Maintain lane have been found on multiple occasions to provide adequate probable cause for a traffic stop, including stops that lead to DUI arrests.

For example, in Acree v. State, the Georgia Court of Appeals held that the officer was justified in stopping the defendant's vehicle based on the "videotaped evidence that established that the officer observed the defendant's vehicle failing to maintain its lane" in violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-48. Acree v. State, 319 Ga.App. 854, 737 S.E.2d 103 (2013).

Are there defenses to a Failure to Maintain Lane charge in Georgia?

Yes. In previous cases, Georgia courts have found that there must be evidence that a road was divided into two or more lanes clearly marked for traffic in order for a Failure to Maintain Lane charge to stick. Therefore, it would be more difficult for the State to prove Failure to Maintain Lane on an unpaved dirt road or single lane back road. See Stroud v. State, 344 Ga.App. 827, 812 S.E.2d 309 (2018).

It may also be a defense if a person left his or her lane in order to prevent an accident. For example, if another driver swerves into your lane and you leave your lane in order to prevent a collision, this could be considered a defense.

What are the fines for Failure to Maintain Lane in Georgia?

Failure to Maintain Lane is a misdemeanor offense in Georgia. This means that the maximum fine is $1,000 plus court costs and fees. There is no minimum fine.

The license penalties for a Failure to Maintain Lane conviction in Georgia

Failure to Maintain Lane is a 3-point offense.

For more information on the points system in Georgia, click here. While these points may not seem significant, for individuals with a less-than-perfect driving record, every point matters.

Individuals over 21 who accrue more than 15 points in a 24-month period can have their licenses suspended, which can dramatically affect a person's life and livelihood. Additionally, the law is even stricter with drivers under 21.

Can a conviction for Failure to Maintain Lane affect my insurance?

A conviction under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-48 is reported to the Georgia Department of Driver Services and points are assessed, as described above. This means that your insurance rates may be affected. Of course, this ultimately depends on your insurance company.

Do I need a lawyer if I have been given a citation for Failure to Maintain Lane?

Regardless of the seriousness of your case, if you are charged with any offense in Georgia, you should know what you're up against. A Georgia Traffic Court Attorney can save you money in fines, points on your driver's license, and a day wasted in traffic court. If you have been charged with Failing to Maintain Lane law and want to know your options, call me today.

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