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Any traffic ticket is annoying but one for a U-turn may be especially bothersome if you feel it was unjustified.
Where are U-Turns Allowed?
Most U-turns in California are permitted at intersections where there are traffic control devices unless there is a sign prohibiting such turns. When making your U-turn at these intersections, you can only make it from the far left lane.
You also have to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in the crosswalk and to other vehicles in the intersection. U-turns are nearly always permitted in residential areas. You can even cross a double yellow line to do so, so long as no sign is present that specifically prohibits it. You cannot make the turn, however, where there is a solid yellow line on the outside and a broken yellow line on the inside
You should probably not make a U-turn in front of a fire station or on a hill where you cannot see for at least 200 feet ahead, and after signaling your turn well in advance. Otherwise, an officer could ticket you for making an unsafe U-turn, regardless if was legal.
Can You Fight U-Turn Tickets?
Like the majority of motorists who receive a moving ticket violation, they choose to pay the fine and attend traffic school, where no points will be assessed on their ticket. You can only attend traffic school, or take the course online, if you have had no other moving violations in the past 18-months. Your paying the ticket is an admission of guilt unless you check off the box on the citation indicating that you intend to challenge the ticket.
Any traffic ticket can be contested, but to be successful you either have to pray that the officer who ticketed you does not appear in court or have a reasonable argument that plausibly supports your contention that you made the U-turn legally or that the officer made an error on the citation.
Occasionally, an officer will refer to the wrong California vehicle code section that was violated, even if you may have made an illegal turn. Most judges will dismiss your ticket on this basis so long as you did not admit that you violated the law. You have no legal obligation to answer any questions about the events since the prosecutor has the sole burden of proving you were guilty.
- In a Business District
You can make a U-turn in a business district, but only at an intersection or divided roadway where a clear opening has been provided. If you are ticketed under this code violation (CVC Section 21651), be sure you were in a business district. Over 50% of the block along 300 feet of the roadway must be businesses.
- In a Residential District
A residential area is one where there are at least 16 residences or businesses within a quarter mile; or at least 13 homes or businesses on one side of the road. You can make a U-turn in this area but only at an intersection controlled by a traffic control device or if no car is within 200 feet of approaching you.
If you are ticketed, you might be able to show you were not in a residential area and no car was within 200 feet of your when you made the turn.
A U-turn ticket, like most moving violations in California, accounts for one point on your driving record. If you accumulate 4 points within 12-months, 6 points within 24-months, or 8 points in 3 years, your license will be suspended.
Retain a Traffic Ticket Lawyer
Traffic ticket lawyers are surprisingly affordable since they often handle a volume of tickets each time they appear in court. Trials are by judge only and usually take no more than 30 minutes or less. Also, your lawyer can negotiate your ticket so that you either accumulate no points or you can retain your driver’s license if you are in jeopardy of having accumulated too many points.
If you face license suspension or have a reasonable defense in your U-turn ticket case, consult a California traffic ticket attorney today.