553 N.E.2d 704 (Ohio Co. 1988), 88 D 6320, State v. Post
|Docket Nº:||88 D 6320.|
|Citation:||553 N.E.2d 704, 50 Ohio Misc.2d 16|
|Opinion Judge:||FROELICH, Judge.|
|Party Name:||The STATE of Ohio v. POST.|
|Attorney:||Charles F. Geidner, Dayton, for State., Claudette A. Post, pro se. Charles F. Geidner, Dayton, for State. Claudette A. Post, pro se.|
|Case Date:||December 19, 1988|
|Court:||County Court of Ohio|
Syllabus by the Court
A police officer who is on duty, but not "on duty for the exclusive or main purpose of enforcing traffic laws," will not be precluded by Evid.R. 601(C) from testifying in a trial for violation of a traffic law on the basis that the cruiser did not have any lights on its top as required by R.C. 4549.13.
The defendant, Claudette A. Post, was stopped by a police officer and cited for violating R.C. 4511.12, failing to stop for a red light. The immediate question before the court is whether the officer was competent to testify pursuant to Evid.R. 601(C). The Evidence Rule (and the related Revised Code Sections, R.C. 4549.13, 4549.14, and 4549.15) make an officer incompetent to testify when he is on duty for the exclusive or main purpose of enforcing traffic laws and arrests or assists in the arrest of a person charged with a traffic violation where the officer at the time of the arrest was not using a properly marked vehicle or was not wearing a legally distinctive uniform as defined by statute. The "vehicle statute," R.C. 4549.13, requires, among other things, a "rotating colored light mounted outside on top of the vehicle," which, it is stipulated, was not present here. Therefore, the remaining question before the court is whether the officer was "on duty for the exclusive or main purpose of enforcing traffic laws."
According to the Supreme Court, R.C. 4549.14 (and therefore Evid.R. 601[C] ) were adopted for the purpose of preventing speed traps and to provide uniformity in traffic control and regulation in an effort to make driving safer in all areas of the state. Dayton v. Adams (1967), 9 Ohio St.2d 89, 90, 38 O.O.2d 223, 224, 223 N.E.2d 822, 824. Certainly one of the safety concerns was the hazard to members of the public that inevitably would result should a police officer, not clearly identified as such, confront a driver and attempt to require him to follow the officer's instructions. As stated in Columbus [50 Ohio Misc.2d 17] v. Murchinson (1984), 21 Ohio App.3d 75, 76, 21 OBR 79, 81, 486 N.E.2d 236, 238, " * * * [i]t requires little imagination to contemplate the unfortunate consequences...
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