How Do I Fight An Improper Turn Ticket In New York?

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.

 

We get a lot of specific questions from our clients such as how much does an illegal left turn ticket costs in NYC, what are the implications for a right turn from second lane and questions regarding right turn on red in New York State. If you have any further questions or if you are in need of legal counsel for your ticket, contact our office today.

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270 Comments. Leave new

  • My accident ticket has the wrong phone number and my address is correctly spelled “WAY” and on the ticket it’s spelled “WY”. Can this dismiss my ticket? Thank you

    Reply
    • Matthew Weiss
      March 18, 2020 9:57 am

      June,

      Those defects do no render your ticket fatally defective. However, there are other ways to fight this ticket. Please email a photo of the front of your ticket to lawyer@nytrafficticket.com and include a [phone number. We will call you upon receipt to provide a free consultation.

      Matthew Weiss
      Attorney Advertising

      Reply
  • Can I argue to the prosecutor that I was not turning right to appeal my accident ticket for “Improper left/right turn”? Would the ticket be considered issued wrongly if it states both left/right turn when I never turned right? Would my argument be valid and winnable? This didn’t happen in NY, but I was just wondering in general. Thank you for your time.

    Reply
    • Matthew Weiss
      March 18, 2020 10:00 am

      Ha,

      You can certainly make those arguments. However, I recommend that you consult with a traffic lawyer in your state.

      Matthew Weiss
      Attorney Advertising

      Reply
  • Hello, I stopped at a stop sign, and made a left turn on a street where the only option was to turn left (dead end ahead and no street going right). The person in front of me stopped, didn’t signal, and turned left. I did the same. I did not signal when I turned left after making a complete stop, and then I was pulled over and ticketed for making a left turn without signaling. Is there any way I can fight this ticket? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Warren,

      Yes, you can fight it by pleading not guilty. This is the only way to possibly obtain a more favorable outcome.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • Hello,
    Received a ticket for 1160(A) improper right turn at intersection. The actual right lane had at least 15 taxi cabs just parked. I carefully made the turn and police officer on the street motioned me to pull over. The ticket he handed me has several erroneous entries. Vehicle year is incorrect and well as my middle initial. Can this ticket be waived? Thank you kindly for your advice.

    Reply
  • Hi. Cool that you have this service. Thanks. Got a 1163A “improper turn” ticket in Manhattan. officer seemed apologetic when giving it to me and mumbled something like he has some pressure to do so. the circumstances of my violation are gray. I turned left from either the left most lane or not. when he gave me the paper ticket he advised me: plead not guilty. postpone ticket twice. by then I’ll be off the force (retiring). My questions: can i postpone twice or only once? how long forward can each postponement be? do i need excuse to postpone? what are acceptable excuses? if officer doesn’t show up, am i automatically off the hook? (if yes, every time someone retires, all his open tickets expire too)? what if a replacement officer shows – does that happen or must the officer who gave ticket show up? If another officer is there, and he obviously cannot explain what of my turn was improper, can i say that without clear assertion of violation there’s nothing to plead against?

    Reply
    • Mendel,

      My questions:
      can i postpone twice or only once? Twice.
      how long forward can each postponement be? It depends on the officer’s schedule. Should be 5-8 months.
      do i need excuse to postpone? Not for the first one.
      what are acceptable excuses? There are many including a desire to find and hire a traffic lawyer, travel, etc.
      if officer doesn’t show up, am i automatically off the hook? No unless his failure to show is due to retirement.
      what if a replacement officer shows – does that happen or must the officer who gave ticket show up? That doesn’t happen.
      If another officer is there, and he obviously cannot explain what of my turn was improper, can i say that without clear assertion of violation there’s nothing to plead against? See above.

      Reply
      • Thanks much for your responses.

        “if officer doesn’t show up, am i automatically off the hook?
        No unless his failure to show is due to retirement.”:

        So technically I could show up for a hearing and the officer does not show up and (unless he’s retired) I might have to come back?

        Reply
  • Hello,
    Just rec’d 1160(a) for not being in right-most lane for right turn. I often make wide turns, as I drive a dump truck, second, pedestrian safety is my top priority and wider turns enable a greater FOV, reducing blind spots. A tighter turn will inhibit my FOV as well risk driving up on the curb, where pedestrians would be standing, especially in a high foot traffic intersection.
    Would I have a fair arguement to at least wipe off the points? My record was immaculate up to this point..
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • JA,

      In New York City, it is “all or nothing”. There are no deals.

      I doubt that you’ll beat this ticket based on what you write. Sorry.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • CHARLES L DIORIO
    January 31, 2020 8:09 am

    I received 2 “improper/no signal” tickets in the same stop, from the same officer. Both say 1163D under law/section/subsection. He said I made two right turns without signaling. Is this a form of double jeopardy? Thanks.

    Reply
  • I made a u turn on 116th street in upper Manhattan. I got a ticket charged for 1160(e). Should I please guilty or fight it?

    Reply
    • Matthew Weiss
      January 18, 2020 7:59 pm

      Jerrod,

      This ticket carries 2 points and roughly a $150 fine. In NYC, they do not plea bargain so it will be hard to beat this ticket. With that said, do not let us discourage you from trying.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • Hi my friend was charged with 1160(e) for making a u turn in manhattan. It isn’t a business district. There was a double yellow line. Wrong statute or just He’s screwed? lol thank you!

    Reply
    • Matthew Weiss
      January 18, 2020 7:57 pm

      Jen,

      VTL 1160(e) is a statute that governs the manner by which a U-turn can be legally made. Regardless of the manner, a U-turn may not be legally made within NYC within a “business district”.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • When an summons is issued for a violation based on pavement markings alone, it is unlawful and the issuing officer has (a) committed a traffic violation, and (b) the summons should have been issued against the authority that made the pavement markings.

    The NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law (section 1680) provides that every traffic control device (pavement markings, in his case) MUST comply with the U.S> Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices as amended by the NYS Supplement.

    The NYS Supplement, Section 3B.20 Pavement Word, Symbol, and Arrow Markings

    “24A Word and symbol pavement markings shall not be used to inform motorists of mandatory messages, except as a supplement to standard signs.”

    Reply
  • Happy new year! I made a turn from 42nd street on to 2nd avenue. Got a ticket for an improper turn. Ive been postponing it for 2 years now and the time to face the judge has finally come. My question is should I just plead guilty online and pay it, or do I have chance to reduce my points by showing up to my court date and asking the judge to reduce the points? I don’t really have any defense, any pictures or even much of a memory of the incident. What do you think is the wisest or smartest thing to do? Thank you in advance!

    Reply
    • Matthew Weiss
      January 3, 2020 7:11 pm

      Bobby T,

      You have no chance for a reduction because they do not reduce tickets in NYC. Given that this is only a 2-point ticket, you may want to just pay it (especially if you have an otherwise clean record).

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • Good morning I driving in the left lane I going straight the police give me ticket How many point he put in my licence

    Reply
    • Guerlin Isaac,

      This sounds like a 2 point ticket for failing to obey a sign or pavement marking. It, alone, is a relatively minor ticket.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • Hello , I received a ticket for making a turn from the middle lane on Main street to Horace harding expressway but in my defense the road doesn’t say whether i can or cannot , the road is severely damaged and has had work done and they haven’t painted any lines for the middle line or right lane.(no lines as in arrows with direction and also lane lines )you can faintly see the left lane turn signal sign on the left but nothing for the middle or right , it doesn’t even have a line for cars to come to a full stop to for pedestrians . To add to this the only sign that the intersection has is left lane turn only on one little pole ,But that sign is the same as an the other intersection (Exact same intersection ) that is 9 blocks away on main street which has everything clearly written including the floor painted with arrows indicating drivers the directions your allowed to go (middle lane allowed to turn left as well) and the left lane turn only sign accompanied by another sign under it with the same markings as the floor arrows . Could i possibly win this ticket because there is no clear indication on the floor ? because it has not been painted on the floor . The officer said that theres a sign that says left lane turn only im like yea alot of intersections can say that but you can still turn from the middle.

    Reply
    • Matthew Weiss
      October 27, 2019 3:56 pm

      Carolina,

      It is illegal to turn left from the middle lane (unless there is are pavements markings allowing such a maneuver). No signs are necessary to warn you about illegally turning from the middle lane.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
      • But what if its not illegal & we just don’t know yet because the floor hasn’t been painted After roadwork. how can the officer declare that its illegal , Like i said before you can barely even see the markings on the left lane saying to left . Theres been so much road work done to the middle and right lane that it has nothing painted and not even a lane line even though the road has 3 lanes .

        Reply
  • I received a ticket for improper turn, 1163(A), at 8:55 pm. There was no traffic and apparently the officer was behind me a little ways back.This is a T intersection at the light. The light turned green and I made the left. He followed me for some distance before deciding to pull me over. He informed me that I didn’t signal before turning. The road is a two way .

    Reply
    • Matthew Weiss
      October 18, 2019 7:03 am

      Louis Kuran,

      Your post does not state what lane you are in, however, it is illegal to make a left turn from the right lane (unless pavement markings allow this maneuver). With that said, pleading not guilty is the only way to possibly obtain a more favorable outcome.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • I am a newyork driver. I made a left turn on union tpke (which will merge to marcus ave) from new hyde park road when it turns green.. but before i did crossed white stop line and stopped my car on red light. There is a reason behind it..It is raining on that day and i supposed to take left turn on marcus ave from new hyde park road but there was a police car behind me with flash lights so i moved to right line and increased speed to pass the green light.. so since it is raining i tried to hit the brake hard but couldn’t stop before the stop line.. so some how i stopped my car on white cross lines on red light..
    Last week i got a violation ticket of $150.. We can see the same in the video.. but can’t see the police car since i already crossed that signal.. so i disputed the violation. I don’t have any proof of the police car but can see it is raining in the video..
    What is the best way to explain the situation.

    Reply
    • Matthew Weiss
      October 15, 2019 9:22 pm

      Madhu,

      We cannot answer the “best” way to explain your defense. Keep it concise and to the point.

      Good luck!

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • i was pulled over for making a left turn “illegally”
    officer cited with (1160B , & 4-03A1 )
    however, the officer wrote the wrong vehicle type on the ticket.
    he wrote “2014 gray mercedes benz … vehicle type= E-BIKE”

    i drive 2014 ML350, making this vehicle type a SUV
    not a electric bike.

    help.. what should my next actions be?

    Reply
    • Steve,

      Writing the wrote the wrong vehicle type does not render your ticket fatally defective.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • Hi Matthew, I’m an Uber driver in NYC and was driving my passenger to their destination when I received an improper turn ticket. So I made a right turn onto West End ave SB from W66st because W66st becomes a one way WB at WestEnd ave. I had to make the next left turn onto W65st because its one of the streets where you can cut thru central park so traffic is very heavy. the left turn lane is clogged up (only 2-3 cars maximum can fit) So I inched my way to the intersection with no space at all to get into the left lane. I made a wide left turn to let the cars to the left pass first then turning. I did not want to cut them off.

    Also, there is a left turn only signal at W 65st/ West end ave. and W 65st is a one way going EB.

    I already have 5 points within 18 months so I really need to beat this ticket!!

    Reply
  • I was travelling south on 7th Avenue and made a right turn onto 31st Street from the second land. The violation was 1160(A). From reading the above, it seems like this violation was incorrectly classified. Do I have grounds to have this dismissed?

    Reply
  • David Adelman
    July 31, 2019 2:51 pm

    I had a situation where a car was sitting with its flashers on blocking the right hand lane (marked for right turn only) as I approached the intersection and stayed in the lane immediately adjacent to make my right turn. While waiting for the light to change the parked car moved forwards and a police officer pulled up behind me. After making the turn I was pulled over and ticketed (1160A). What is the best way to fight this NYC ticket?

    Reply
    • Matthew Weiss
      August 1, 2019 9:22 am

      David Adelman,

      Sounds like you got caught in really bad timing. Plead not guilty. This is the only way to possible obtain a more favorable outcome. However, beating this ticket will be very hard because in NYC they do not plea bargain traffic tickets (so you’ll have to beat it at trial).

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • I am a New Jersey driver. I made a left turn in Manhattan from West End Avenue, a two way South Bound street onto West 95th Street, a one way Eastbound Street. I received a ticket for Improper Left Turn on one-way roadway. 1160 (C) But actually, there is a no left turn sign on that corner.

    It appears that the ticket was incorrectly issued both from the point that it was not an improper left but an illegal left and also that I turned from a two way street onto a one way street. Is this ticket defective?? Can it be dismissed??

    Reply
    • Matthew Weiss
      July 23, 2019 5:33 am

      Nancy,

      VTL 1160(c) is the correct section. This section sets forth the proper method for making any left turn from a two-way to a one-way (as well as from a one-way onto a two-way) street. Whether you actually violated this section would be up to the judge but traffic judges are notorious for believing a police officer over a motorist.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply

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