Improper turn tickets are one of the most common types of traffic tickets issued in New York City especially in Manhattan. This is a common ticket because impatient motorists confronted with a backed-up turning lane will sometimes “jump the line” by making a wide turn from another lane. This traffic ticket carries 2 points and roughly a $150 fine.
An improper turn is when a motorist turns right from a center or left lane, or left from a center or right lane. Stated differently, a motorist turning left may only do so from the left lane and when turning right may only do so from the right lane. Sometimes there will be pavement marking reminding motorists of this rule but often this is not the case.
The two exceptions are (1) when there are pavement markings and/or signs that specifically authorize turning from another lane, and (2) when there is a legitimate obstruction in the way (not backed-up or slow traffic) that requires you to go around it.
New York Vehicle and Traffic Law (“VTL”) Section 1160(a) governs right-hand turns and essentially states that approaches to and right turns must be made from the right lane.
Left-hand turns are a little more complicated, however. Section 1160(b) and (c) sets forth the proper position for left-hand turns. Subdivision (b) governs when you are turning left to or from a two-way roadway while subdivision (c) governs when you are turning left to or from a one-way roadway. The full text of these subdivisions is below.
It is important to check under which subdivision your traffic ticket is issued (vis-à-vis the place of occurrence) as the wrong section of law can be a strong argument in favor of getting a dismissal. For example, if you are charged under 1160(b), make sure that both roads where the offense occurred are two-way streets. If either one is a one-way roadway, then you can argue that you were charged under the wrong section.
Often, however, a police office will charge a improperly turning motorist under VTL 1163(a). This is a catchall section that covers any type of improper turn. Therefore, if you are issued a summons under this section, it is irrelevant whether the subject intersection is two one-way streets, or not.
Often improper turn tickets are issued in conjunction with a second ticket. Companion tickets that we often see issued with an improper turn ticket are failure to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian as well as failure to signal. If this is your situation, then a good argument to make is that you should not be penalized for essentially one maneuver and, therefore, one of the two charges should be dismissed.
Of course, there are other ways to possibly beat these types of traffic tickets. If you are looking for a professional assistance to fight your traffic ticket, call us at 212-683-7337 for a free consultation.
VTL Section 1160. Required position and method of turning at intersections.
The driver of a vehicle intending to turn at an intersection shall do so as follows:
(a) Right turns. Both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of the roadway or, where travel on the shoulder or slope has been authorized, from the shoulder or slope.
(b) Left turns on two-way roadways. At any intersection where traffic is permitted to move in both directions on each roadway entering the intersection, an approach for a left turn shall be made in that portion of the right half of the roadway nearest the center line thereof and by passing to the right of such center line where it enters the intersection and after entering the intersection the left turn shall be made so as to leave the intersection to the right of the center line of the roadway being entered. Whenever practicable the left turn shall be made in that portion of the intersection to the left of the center of the intersection.
(c) Left turns on other than two-way roadways. At any intersection where traffic is restricted to one direction on one or more of the roadways, the driver of a vehicle intending to turn left at any such intersection shall approach the intersection in the extreme left-hand lane of the roadway lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of such vehicle or, where travel on the shoulder or slope has been authorized, from the shoulder or slope, and after entering the intersection the left turn shall be made so as to leave the intersection, as nearly as practicable, in the left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in such direction upon the roadway being entered.
VTL Section 1163. Turning movements and required signals.
(a) No person shall turn a vehicle at an intersection unless the vehicle is in proper position upon the roadway as required in section eleven hundred sixty, or turn a vehicle to enter a private road or driveway, or otherwise turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a roadway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety. No person shall so turn any vehicle without giving an appropriate signal in the manner hereinafter provided.