Turning Rules in California

Turning Rules in California

June 4, 2024

Vehicle Code 22100 governs the proper execution of right-hand and left-hand turns on California highways. The full text of the code states:

22100. Except as provided in Section 22100.5 or 22101, the driver of any vehicle intending to turn upon a highway shall do so as follows:

(a) Right Turns: The approach for a right-hand turn and the turn itself should be made as close as possible to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, with the following exceptions:

  1. On a highway with three marked lanes for traffic moving in one direction that ends at an intersecting highway accommodating traffic in both directions, a driver in the middle lane may turn right into any lane available for traffic moving in that direction on the entered roadway.
  2. If turning right from a one-way highway at an intersection, the driver must approach the turn as stated above and complete the turn in any lane available for traffic moving in that direction on the entered roadway.
  3. On a highway with additional lanes marked for right turns, the driver may turn right from any designated lane.

(b) Left Turns: The approach for a left-hand turn must be made as close as possible to the left-hand edge of the extreme left-hand lane or portion of the roadway available to traffic moving in the same direction. When turning at an intersection, the left turn must be made after entering the intersection and should end in any lane available for traffic moving in that direction on the entered roadway. An exception exists for highways with three marked lanes for traffic moving in one direction that end at an intersecting highway accommodating traffic in both directions, where a driver in the middle lane may turn left into any available lane.

Key points to understand about this section of the code include:

  1. VC 22100 mandates that right turns be made as close as possible to the right-hand curb or edge of the road.
  2. Similarly, left turns must be made as close as possible to the left-hand curb or edge of the road.
  3. Improper turns incur a fine of $238.00.
  4. Violations result in one point on the driver’s DMV record. Accumulating 4 points in 12 months, 6 points in 24 months, or 8 points in 36 months risks a negligent operator license suspension.
  5. Drivers can contest a ticket for an improper turn with a legal defense, ideally with the advice of an experienced California defense attorney.
  6. Ignoring tickets for violating VC 22100 leads to a new violation under California Vehicle Code 40508, which can be charged as a misdemeanor.

1. Vehicle Code 22100 VC – Guidelines for Right and Left Turns in California

Vehicle Code 22100 specifies the rules for making right and left turns on California roads. Subsection (a) deals with right-hand turns, and subsection (b) covers left-hand turns.

1.1 Vehicle Code 22100 (a) – Proper Right-Hand Turns

Under Vehicle Code 22100 (a):

Both the approach for a right-hand turn and the turn itself must be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. Exceptions include:

  1. On a three-lane road ending at a two-way road, drivers may turn right from the middle lane into any lawful lane.
  2. When turning right from a one-way road, drivers must:
    • Approach the turn as generally required;
    • Complete the turn in any available lawful lane.
  3. On roads with marked lanes for right turns, drivers may turn right from any marked lane.

1.2 Vehicle Code 22100 (b) – Proper Left-Hand Turns

Under Vehicle Code 22100 (b):

The approach for a left-hand turn must be as close as practicable to the left-hand edge of the extreme left-hand lane. Additional rules include:

  1. Drivers must not start a left turn before entering the intersection.
  2. Left turns can be made into any available lawful lane.
  3. On a three-lane road ending at a two-way road, drivers may turn left from the middle lane into any available lawful lane.

2. Penalties for an Improper Turn

Drivers who violate Vehicle Code 22100 VC face two main penalties:

  1. A fine
  2. Points on their California State driving record

2.1 Fine

Drivers who make improper right or left turns are ticketed and must pay a fine. The fine for violating VC 22100 is $238.00.

2.2 Points on the Motorist’s California State Driving Record

Violating Vehicle Code 22100 results in one point being added to the driver’s DMV record. This can lead to increased insurance rates for several years. Accumulating multiple points can have more severe consequences:

  • 4 points in 12 months
  • 6 points in 24 months
  • 8 points in 36 months

These point accumulations can result in the DMV suspending or revoking driving privileges, necessitating a DMV hearing.

Drivers who receive a ticket for an improper turn can challenge it by raising a legal defense. It is advisable to seek assistance from an experienced California defense attorney when doing so.

3.1 Common Defenses Against Improper Turn Accusations

Five common defenses against a VC 22100 violation include:

  1. The driver made the turn as close as practicable to the curb, given the circumstances.
  2. The driver made the turn from a middle lane on a three-lane road into a legally available lane.
  3. An emergency situation made it impossible to comply with VC 22100.
  4. The citing officer made a mistake.
  5. The improper turn was necessary for safety reasons.

Defending against such accusations requires credible evidence such as:

  • Witness statements
  • Photographs
  • Surveillance videos

3.2 Contact an Attorney for Help

While drivers can represent themselves in traffic court, consulting with an experienced California traffic ticket attorney is highly recommended. The benefits of hiring an attorney include:

  • Prosecutors often offer better deals to represented drivers.
  • Defense attorneys can negotiate charge reductions or dismissals.
  • Drivers with attorneys do not need to appear in court personally.
  • Attorneys can identify and present the best defenses.

4. Traffic School for VC 22100 Violations

Drivers ticketed for an improper turn are not required to attend traffic school but have the option to do so. Attending traffic school means the driver still pays the $238.00 fine, but generally avoids points on their DMV record.

To be eligible for traffic school, a driver must:

  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Have committed the offense while driving a noncommercial vehicle
  • Have received a ticket for a moving violation infraction

5. Criminal Charges and VC 22100 Violations

Violating Vehicle Code 22100 does not result in criminal charges as it is not a crime in California. VC 22100 violations are considered infractions, so drivers do not face jail time or criminal penalties for making improper turns.

6. Ignoring a Ticket for Violating VC 22100

Motorists must not ignore a ticket for making an improper turn. If they do, two consequences arise:

  1. They violate California Vehicle Code 40508 VC for failing to appear in court for a traffic citation.
  2. They receive penalties for violating VC 40508.

6.1 Violation of Vehicle Code 40508 VC

When a driver receives a ticket in California, they must sign a written promise to appear in court. This promise is to appear at a specified time and place unless they are represented by a defense attorney (see Section 3.2).

If the driver willfully fails to appear, they violate Vehicle Code 40508 VC. This violation occurs when the driver willingly does not show up. It is not a defense if the driver did not intend to break the law.

The driver violates Vehicle Code 40508 just by breaking a promise to:

  • Appear in court
  • Appear to pay bail
  • Pay bail in installments
  • Pay a fine within the authorized time
  • Comply with any condition of the court

6.2 Penalties for Violating VC 40508

A violation of Vehicle Code 40508 VC is a misdemeanor, carrying penalties that include:

  • Up to six months in county jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000

7. Improper Turns and Personal Injury Lawsuits

If a driver violates Vehicle Code 22100 and causes an accident with another motorist or a pedestrian, they may be found “negligent” if the injured party files a personal injury lawsuit.

California law defines “negligence” as the failure to use reasonable care to prevent harm to oneself or others. In auto accidents, negligent drivers are considered at fault and may have to pay for damages caused.

Proving negligence in a personal injury case can be challenging. However, in California, a driver is considered “negligent per se” if they violate a statute. Negligence “per se” presumes a driver is negligent if they violate a statute or ordinance. Thus, a driver making an improper turn would be considered negligent per se for violating VC 22100.

Even if a driver is negligent per se, they may still recover damages incurred due to California’s comparative fault laws.

8. Related Laws to Vehicle Code 22100 VC

Several laws related to VC 22100 include:

  • Illegal U-turns at intersections (Vehicle Code 22100.5)
  • U-turns in business and residential districts (Vehicle Codes 22102-22103)
  • Signals before turning or changing lanes (Vehicle Code 22108)

8.1 Illegal U-turns at Intersections – Vehicle Code 22100.5

Vehicle Code 22100.5 makes it illegal for drivers to make U-turns at intersections controlled by traffic signals where a sign prohibits it.

California Vehicle Code 22100.5 states:

No driver shall make a U-turn at an intersection controlled by official traffic signals except as provided in Section 21451.

According to Vehicle Code 21451 (a), a driver approaching a green light can make a U-turn unless a sign prohibits it. If allowed, the motorist must yield the right-of-way to traffic or pedestrians within the intersection or crosswalk.

Vehicle Code 21451 (b) states that drivers approaching a green arrow signal can make a U-turn unless a sign prohibits it. Again, they must yield the right-of-way to any traffic or pedestrians within the intersection or crosswalk.

When U-turns are permissible, drivers must make them from the far left-hand lane. Violations result in:

  • A fine of $234
  • One point assessed on the driver’s DMV driving record

8.2 U-turns in Business and Residential Districts – Vehicle Codes 22102-22103

Vehicle Codes 22102 and 22103 address U-turns in business and residential districts.

VC 22102 makes it illegal for drivers to make U-turns in a business district unless at an intersection or a clear opening in the street.

Under VC 22103, it is illegal to make a U-turn in a residential district when another vehicle is approaching within 200 feet. The exception is when a driver is at an intersection controlled by an official traffic device.

Penalties for violating these U-turn laws are:

  • A fine of $234
  • One point on the driver’s DMV driving record

8.3 Signals Before Turning or Changing Lanes – Vehicle Code 22108

California Vehicle Code 22108 VC mandates that drivers signal before turning or changing lanes. Drivers must signal at least 100 feet before making a turn or changing lanes.

The purpose of a signal is to warn the driver behind. Once a driver signals, they do not have the absolute right of way. Courts have imposed additional duties on signaling drivers, including:

  • Using reasonable care in operating the vehicle
  • Making proper observations
  • Exercising care to avoid collisions when completing a turn

Penalties for violating Vehicle Code 22108 VC include:

  • A fine of $238.00
  • One point on the DMV driving record

If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident, or need assistance navigating traffic laws, Avian Law Group is here to help. Contact us at (888) 465-0540 for expert legal support.

Posted by

Laura Delgado

Laura Delgado is an accomplished digital marketing specialist at Avian Law Group. She brings with her a wealth of experience and a strong background in criminal justice and psychology, which has proven to be invaluable in her role at the firm. Laura’s exceptional leadership qualities and her ability to excel under pressure enable her to adapt to any situation and contribute significantly to the team.

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