Is Crossing the Fog Line Illegal in New York?

February 16, 2016

Tennessee has made it illegal to touch and/or cross the fog line (the white line on the right side of the road near the shoulder) while operating a motor vehicle (http://goo.gl/TYf0Db). If you drive in Tennessee this is sort of a big deal. Think about how many times you touch the fog line on any given day just driving to work. Or how about on a twisty, curvy road? Now, if you do that just once in TN and a cop sees you do it, you can be lawfully stopped for a traffic infraction. And if you’ve been drinking (or are committing any other crime at the time) it can spiral out of control quickly from there.

This not the state of law in New York State, however. Contacting the fog line in New York does NOT constitute a lawful basis to stop a motor vehicle. That’s not to say that other circumstances can’t override that fact. If you force a pedestrian to dive out of your way when you cross the fog line, cross it a lot while swerving all over the road, or cross it in combination with the commission of any other traffic violations (e.g., crossing the double yellow just once), the fog line defense will go out the window and you may be lawfully pulled over.

For further information concerning fog line stops, DWI arrests and probable cause, take a look at retired Town of Hyde Park judge David Steinberg’s written opinion, People v. Chesley, 27Misc. 3d 1227(A)[Justice Ct., Hyde Park, 2010].

Your best bet is obviously to stay in your lane and observe all traffic control devices (lights, signs, and markings) at all times. But things happen, and if you are ultimately arrested in New York for an offense resulting from or discovered through the use of a motor vehicle, search and seizure considerations can play a significant role in your defense. It is therefore imperative that you contact the law office of Catalano & Carpenter LLP immediately to discuss your case with an experienced criminal and DWI defense attorney. Call us today at (845) 454-1919.