Although it is a rather minor offense, a failure to maintain lane citation can lead to far more serious charges if the officer who stops you suspects you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, the term “failure to maintain lane” is broadly defined under the state’s traffic code, which means it doesn’t take much to be charged with this offense.

While there’s no such thing as a good traffic ticket, a failure to maintain lane citation typically carries only a small fine and a few points on your driver’s license. However, if the officer suspects you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, that minor offense can become the most damaging evidence against you.

DUI and Probable Cause

Constitutional protections require law enforcement officials to meet certain guidelines before charging a person with a criminal offense; this is known as the probable cause requirement. In terms of DUI, this means the officer must first establish that he or she had a valid reason to suspect you were impaired before arresting you. If you have alcohol on your breath or your speech is slurred, for example, the officer has grounds to suspect you of driving under the influence.

Along with identifying any physical signs of impairment, officers also look for certain behaviors that may indicate a driver is impaired. While weaving, swerving, and driving on the wrong side of the road are obvious red flags, even a minor failure to maintain lane violation can be used to establish probable cause for suspecting you of DUI.

Definition of Failure to Maintain Lane

Georgia law states that all vehicles must be driven within a single lane until its driver can safely change lanes. What exactly does that mean? According to the courts, simply brushing up against a solid line or going slightly over it is grounds for an officer to cite you for failure to maintain lane.

Unlike other traffic citations, a DUI conviction carries a number of criminal penalties including a possible license suspension and jail sentence. You’ll face even harsher punishment if you were involved in an accident and deemed the at-fault driver.