City of Cleveland v. Buford, No. 2016 TRC 09893.

CourtCourt of Common Pleas of Ohio
Writing for the CourtEMANUELLA GROVES, Judge.
Citation65 N.E.3d 335
Parties CITY OF CLEVELAND, Plaintiff v. Michael BUFORD, Defendant.
Decision Date28 September 2016
Docket NumberNo. 2016 TRC 09893.

65 N.E.3d 335

Michael BUFORD, Defendant.

No. 2016 TRC 09893.

Cleveland Municipal Court, Ohio.

Sept. 28, 2016.

65 N.E.3d 336

Assistant City Prosecutor Katherine Keefer appeared for City of Cleveland, Plaintiff.

Assistant Public Defender David King appeared for Michael Buford, Defendant.



On March 16, 2016, defendant Michael Buford was stopped by Ohio Highway Patrol Trooper Patrick Reagan. As a result of the stop, the defendant was charged with violations of R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(A), Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs; R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(D), Driving While Under Influence of Alcohol or Drugs with Concentration of eight-hundreds of one per cent or more but less than seventeen-hundreds of one percent, and R.C. 4513.263(B)(1), Seat Belt Requirements. The remarks section of the citation stated, "unsafe speed warning." The defendant filed a motion to suppress challenging the basis for the stop and the execution of the field sobriety tests.

At the suppression hearing, Trooper Reagan testified that he observed the defendant for approximately five to eight seconds operating his vehicle at a high rate speed in a 25mph zone. When asked where his laser speed-measurement device was, the trooper responded that it was in the trunk of his cruiser. The trooper determined the defendant was driving 35mph from his unaided visual estimation. He testified that he had been trained in visual estimation of speed. After observing the defendant, the trooper pulled behind him and followed him briefly. The trooper's report stated that the defendant committed two lane violations by driving over the marked lane. Upon review of the trooper dash video of the defendant, the trooper conceded that there were no lane violations. Additionally, the defendant was not charged with a lane violation. When asked on cross examination why the defendant was stopped, Trooper Reagan replied he was stopped for speeding. In essence, the defendant was stopped for an unaided visual estimation of speed violation. Given the elimination of the marked lane violations, the court directed the parties to focus on the basis of the stop. If the stop was not valid, then there was no need to examine any subsequent actions because they should not be considered.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, and Article 1, Section 10 of the Ohio Constitution, protect individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures.1 A traffic stop is valid if an officer has a reasonable and articulable suspicion that a motorist has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime.2 Considering all the circumstances, an officer's decision

65 N.E.3d 337

to stop a motorist for a traffic violation must be prompted by a reasonable and articulable suspicion that a traffic violation has been committed.3 The Supreme Court of Ohio has emphasized that probable cause is not required to make a traffic stop.4 In 2010, the Court held that a speed determination made by an officer trained in visual estimation of speed was sufficient evidence to support a speeding conviction.5

However, in 2011, the General Assembly reacted to the court's reliance of unaided visual estimation of speed and enacted R.C. 4511.091(C). This legislation prohibits the use of unaided visual estimation of speed in most cases. R.C. 4511.091(C) states in pertinent part:

No person shall be arrested, charged, or convicted of a violation of any provisions of divisions (B) to (O) of Section 4511.21 or Section 4511.211 of the Revised Code or a substantially similar municipal ordinance based on a peace officer's unaided visual estimation of the speed of a motor vehicle, trackless trolley or street car. This division does not do any of the following:

(a) Preclude the use by a peace officer of a stopwatch, radar, laser, or ...

(b) Apply regarding any violation other than a violation of divisions (B) to (O) of Section 4511.21 or ...

(c) Preclude a peace officer from testifying that the speed of operation of a motor vehicle ... was at a speed greater or less than a speed described in division (A) of Section 4511.21....

In essence, unaided visual estimation of speed by a peace officer may now only be utilized as the sole evidence in speeding violations in school zones6 and situations where the motorist is traveling at such speed that he cannot bring the motor vehicle to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead given the road and traffic conditions. The legislation has superseded and overruled the notion that officers may use unaided visual estimates of speed for arrest, charging and conviction.7


To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT