It is essential to understand how the laws in California impact your driving record. One such infraction is the execution of a U-turn. In specific situations this can result in a U-turn ticket, or worst case, an accident. A U-turn, defined as making a turn, usually from the left lane to return in the direction from which you came, is legal in CA under certain circumstances.
Many times, particularly in heavy traffic, drivers panic when they miss an exit or interchange on the freeway knowing it may take hours to get back headed in the right direction. To circumvent that time loss, we sometimes make a bad decision and an illegal U-turn.
CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 22102
CVC 22102, Turning and Stopping and Turning Signals declares that a driver can only make a U-turn in the business district at intersections and when on the divided highway at clearly marked openings in accordance with CVC 21651.
CVC 21651 & the U-Turn Ticket
CVC 21651, Driving on Right Side explains in subparagraph (a) about U-turns, “…it is unlawful to do either of the following: To drive any vehicle over, upon, or across the dividing section…” Or, to make a U-turn on a divided highway except where there is a clearly marked opening designated by Caltrans or local authority for such use.
Besides those specific areas stated above, it is legal to make a U-turn in the following scenarios:
● In a residential area and there is no traffic within 200 feet approaching from either direction,
● From the far-left lane unless there is a U-shaped arrow on the roadway surface in your lane,
● You have the right-of-way at an intersection by virtue of a green light or green left-turn arrow unless there is a “No U-turn” sign, and
● You may even cross a double yellow or white line when a U-turn is allowed and safe.
A Possible U-Turn Ticket
You could receive a U-turn ticket for the following illegal maneuvers, though some are obvious:
● On or at a railway crossing,
● When a posted “No U-turn” sign is present,
● When another vehicle is approaching and might hit your vehicle,
● In front of the fire station and do NOT use that driveway to turn either, it is dangerous and illegal,
● Anywhere but at an intersection in a business district,
● On one-way streets, and
● On divided highways or freeways when there is no opening and you must cross a double yellow line, strips of land, curbs, etc.
Although most of these are or should be obvious, many will try anyway. Some will cause an accident, which could be devastating particularly on the freeway. Others will get a U-turn ticket based on the guidelines of CVC 22102 & 21651, and if convicted, the DMV will assess a NOTS point on their motor vehicle driving record (MVR).
Your Motor Vehicle Driving Record and NOTS
CVC 12810, Issuance and Renewal of Licenses provides the DMV with authority to assess negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) points for traffic violation convictions and at-fault accidents reported to them, including notifications from other states and US territories. It also contains a list of which convictions are one-point, 1.5 points assessed for the same violations in a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), and which are two-points or three for CMV violators. Minor infractions such as a U-turn ticket conviction are one point, and major infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies are two points.
An at-fault accident is one point regardless of the degree of fault over 0 percent. The purpose of assessing NOTS points is to track a driver’s behavior and provide notices and warning of impending action based on convictions and accidents.
There Are Four Levels Within NOTS:
Level One initiates a “Warning Letter” when the driver compiles 2 points within 12 months, 4 within 24, and 6 within 36.
Level Two initiates a “Notice of Intent to Suspend” when the driver compiles 3 points within 12 months, 5 within 24, and 7 within 36.
Level Three initiates an “Order of Suspension & Probation” when the driver compiles 4 points within 12 months, 6 within 24, and 8 within 36. The DMV then considers the driver a “prima facie” negligent operator. The suspension/probation becomes effective on the 34th day since notification was sent by the DMV, unless the driver requests a DMV Hearing within ten days. If the DMV does not receive a request, the six-month suspension with a simultaneous 12-month probation begins automatically.
Level Four gets initiated when a driver with a suspension and probation receives another violation, failure to appear (FTA), or accident, regardless of fault. The level four penalty includes another six-months suspension and 12-months’ probation.
A driver must provide an SR-22, Certificate of Financial Responsibility and apply for reinstatement at the DMV after serving their suspension.
When you receive an Order of Suspension & Probation from the DMV, you should consult with an attorney and if you both agree, have the attorney represent you at the hearing. Provide the attorney with a copy of your MVR by requesting one online at DMV.CA.GOV. You should ensure it is the CA.GOV site as there are many privately owned, for-profit .com and .org sites that have nothing to do with the DMV. You will need to register and pay the $2.00 fee for a copy. Remember to request a DMV Hearing within ten days if your attorney advises one.
Speak to a Traffic Attorney who regularly practices in Independence, CA
Bigger & Harman are Central Valley traffic ticket attorneys whose office is in Bakersfield. However, they regularly practice law in Bishop and Independence traffic courts and defend clients with U-turn and other tickets, at DMV Hearings.
Normally, a U-turn ticket would not require an attorney, but you should always discuss your specific situation with an attorney. Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300, for a free phone consultation when you receive a suspension notice. Now, you could hire “Cousin Vinnie” who’s likely a very dependable divorce lawyer. However, DMV Hearings and traffic court require a “very particular set of skills.” They are familiar with which traffic codes have been changed and which tickets you may have paid the fine on but are no longer valid and can be removed by the hearing. Do not risk a suspension because of an assumed family discount.
Email Bigger & Harman, firstname.lastname@example.org, or send a private message to their Facebook account for a detailed explanation of what we can offer you. Furthermore, you could read the reviews and feedback from others who have used their service on Avvo, Nolo, or Yelp.
Se habla Español 661.349.9755.
CVC 22102, Turning and Stopping and Turning Signals
CVC 12810, Issuance and Renewal of Licenses
The CA DMV Portal
The 2018 California Superior Court Bail Schedule for Infractions and Misdemeanors.pdf