The Power of Prado: Why Crossing Lane Lines May Not Leave You Out Of Luck
State v. Prado is one of the most powerful tools available for beating your driving charges.
Let's say you're happily driving down the road. You hear your tires hit the rumble strip and, the next thing you know, red and blue lights are flashing in your rear view mirror. Are you in serious trouble? Maybe not...
Police often stop drivers for minor infractions and seek to expand their investigation into more serious offenses.
One of most common minor infractions police use to stop drivers is crossing over lane lines or fog lines. The law, RCW 46.61.140, requires drivers keep their cars "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 move can be made with safety." But that's not the end of the story.
Washington, and several other states, have the exact same law. The courts agree that simply crossing over the lane markers once or twice - so long as no one is put in danger - is not enough for an officer to pull you over.
State v. Prado is the lead case in Washington. Our Court of Appeals ruled that Mr. Prado's driving, where he crossed over a fog line once, was not bad enough to justify an officer pulling him over. It went even further, stating that incursions, not incursion, meaning more than one crossing of the fog line may occur without a valid reason for a traffic stop.
You can use Prado to win your case.
The traffic stop may be unlawful if the police officer stopped you for crossing over a line on the roadway. An unlawful stop can be the key to suppressing the evidence against you. Without evidence, the prosecution will be hard pressed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.