Making abrupt, last-minute turns or turning without using a signal can quickly lead to a traffic ticket. An improper turn ticket may then lead to other negative consequences. Virginia motorists can get a traffic citation for making improper turns, including right and left turns at intersections or U-turns. Receiving a ticket for a traffic violation does not mean you are automatically guilty of the offense. Drivers have the legal right to fight tickets in traffic court, and when you are facing a driver’s license suspension or other negative consequences are at stake, disputing the ticket may sometimes be the best option. Speak with a knowledgeable traffic violation lawyer at Driving Defense Law by calling (757) 929-0335 for help after an improper turn ticket.
Laws for Right and Left Turns
In the absence of a posted sign indicating otherwise, motorists can make right turns when the light is red. These right-on-red turns are subject to limitations: Drivers must first come to a complete stop at the light, and they must also give the right-of-way to other drivers and pedestrians. Once they stop and confirm the turn is safe, they may proceed with caution.
According to the Code of Virginia § 46.2-825, motorists making left turns must yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic and remain stopped until it is safe to turn in front of drivers traveling from the opposite direction. Drivers in a designated left turning lane have the right-of-way after receiving the green left turn arrow. However, those with a round green light must yield to oncoming traffic even if waiting in a left-turning lane. Regardless of traffic signals, all drivers must yield to other cars, pedestrians, or bicycle riders already in the intersection.
How Traffic Tickets Work in Virginia
Traffic tickets are prepayable in Virginia. Unless people want to fight them, appearing in court is usually unnecessary. However, motorists should be aware that prepaying a traffic ticket is an admission of guilt, and they could receive points on their driving records for moving offenses. Negative driving points on the motorist’s record can often lead to insurance premium increases and other problems, such as a suspended driver’s license. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles DMV does suspend drivers’ licenses when motorists receive too many negative points in a short period of time.
Virginia Driver’s License Point System
A traffic citation for improper turns, including an illegal U-turn, is a three-point offense. A motorist who receives 18 points, also called demerit points, within one year will receive a license suspension for 90 days. Those who receive 24 points in two years will also receive a 90-day suspension. The DMV may require drivers to take driver improvement courses for license reinstatement or serve a probation sentence.
What Is the Cost of an Improper Turn Ticket?
There is a standard monetary penalty schedule for traffic violations. However, the driver’s actions, as well as court costs and processing fees, can increase the fine. Unfortunately, what seems to be a simple improper turn citation can add up and be quite expensive. The fine for an illegal turn could range from $50 to $300. The amount will depend on the violation circumstances, severity, and the jurisdiction where the motorist received the ticket.
How To Fight a Ticket for an Improper Turn
A ticket for failing to use a turn signal while turning can have harsh penalties if the officer charges the driver with reckless driving. According to the Virginia Driver’s Manual, motorists must signal a minimum of 100 feet, or approximately three to four seconds, before the turn.
After receiving a traffic ticket for failing to adhere to posted signs prohibiting turns, such as no U-turn or “no right on red,” a sound defense strategy may be asserting the traffic sign was covered, old, and hard to read. This strategy is heavily dependent on the circumstances of the ticket, including the location and the driving conditions prevailing at the time the ticket was issued. A qualified attorney at Driving Defense Law could review the case and help determine the best strategy to fight the improper turn ticket in your unique situation.
Improper Left Turns
The ticket for an improper left turn is often the result of a car crash and consequent police officer accident investigation and report. One potential defense is that the oncoming vehicle was speeding or made other hazardous maneuvers.
Improper Right Turns
Many traffic violations for illegal right turns are related to a police officer’s determination that the driver’s maneuver was unreasonably hazardous. Therefore, defense strategies to fight the ticket often involve explaining the reason for the driver’s actions. Some examples of defenses against an improper right turn include:
- The driver was leaving plenty of space and avoiding cars parked along the road on a curb
- Leaving room for pedestrians who were present
- Avoiding roadwork and construction
Practical Strategies To Fight Traffic Tickets
A traffic citation is an accusation of violating traffic rules and regulations. The state cannot find people guilty or penalize them without a conviction. While paying for minor tickets in advance may look like a time-saving option, for more serious moving violations, going to court and fighting the ticket with an effective defense strategy may be in the driver’s best interest. Some potential options to fight traffic citations of all types include:
- Challenging the ticketing police officer’s subjective opinion or observation that the turn was unsafe or unlawful
- Presenting evidence that the improper turn was an error, or “mistake in fact,” and the driver did not realize they were making an unlawful maneuver
- Disputing the police officer’s evidence by presenting clear and well-planned evidence, such as eye-witness statements, graphs or charts, or pictures
- Evidence to justify the driver’s actions or prove they made the improper turn to avoid sustaining damages or causing harm to others in the immediate area
Finally, a necessity defense strategy, such as asserting an emergency outside of the motorist’s hands, could justify a traffic violation. Approaching emergency vehicles, reckless or intoxicated drivers, or other situations that elevate the risk of a severe accident and harm could all establish the need for a driver’s deviation from normal traffic procedures.
Contact an Experienced Traffic Law Attorney Today
Fighting an improper turn ticket and winning is possible, and every licensed driver has the legal right to defend themselves in Virginia. You have the right to oppose the violation in traffic court, and if you have too many demerit points on your driving record, drive for a living, or disagree with the police officer, contesting a ticket may in some cases be your best path forward. Call a seasoned traffic violation lawyer at Driving Defense Law after an improper turn ticket at (757) 929-0335 to review your options.