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State v. Wentworth

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 08-29-2012
Case #: A142846
Sercombe, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; and Brewer, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/Publications/A142846.pdf

Criminal Procedure: Under ORS 811.370, a state police trooper has probable cause to believe an infraction has been committed when a motorist crosses a road’s white fog line with his or her vehicle’s tire.

Defendant appealed his conviction for the unlawful possession of marijuana. Oregon State Police Trooper Hargas (Hargas) pulled Defendant over after Hargas observed Defendant’s automobile’s tire cross the road’s white fog line on its outer edge. During the traffic stop, Hargas discovered over four ounces of marijuana. Before trial, Defendant argued that the marijuana evidence should be suppressed because the traffic stop was not supported by probable cause since crossing a fog line is not a violation of ORS 811.370. The trial court stated that Hargas had probable cause and denied Defendant’s motion to suppress. On appeal, Defendant made the same argument and added that Hargas' subjective belief that Defendant violated the law was objectively unreasonable because the tire crossed the fog line “incidentally and momentarily.” The Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling holding that crossing the fog line is a violation of ORS 811.370 and therefore, Hargas had probable cause. Secondly, the final argument was not preserved for appeal. Affirmed.