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What Is Considered an Unsafe Lane Change in California?

undefinedAny deviation or movement from your lane of travel without first signaling your intention to other drivers on the roadway could be considered an unsafe lane change.

California Traffic Law Concerning an Unsafe Lane Change

CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 22107, Turning and Stopping and Turning Signals, is the primary section of traffic code that describes an unsafe lane change. However, any section between 22100 – 22113 could contain elements about lane changes and the proper and safe distance to signal your intent to change lanes.

That section of code compels, “No person shall turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a roadway until such movement can be made with reasonable safety and then only after the giving of an appropriate signal in the manner provided in this chapter in the event any other vehicle may be affected by the movement.”

Likewise, CVC 22108 states that “Any signal of intention to turn right or left shall be given continuously during the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.”

Therefore, if a driver checks left and right to ensure “reasonable safety” before moving into another lane to pass, they must first signal that intention to other drivers using their turn signal for a minimum of 100 feet before the turn.

When a driver does not comply with the wording in these sections of the traffic code, they may be guilty of an unsafe lane change.

When Is an Unsafe Lane Change a DOT FMCSA “Serious Offense”?

Whenever a commercial driver’s license holder is convicted or pays a fine for an unsafe lane change, they are guilty of an unsafe lane change according to FMCSA CFR 49 Part 383.51, Driver Disqualifications. However, only the second conviction of an unsafe lane change within three years of the first will result in a 60-day driver’s disqualification. A third within three years of the first will result in a 120-day driver disqualification under the FMCSA Serious Offense rule.

Therefore, a truck driver should dispute every incident of an unsafe lane change in traffic court with a traffic attorney. Many CDL holders make the mistake of thinking they can go into traffic court and explain what happens to the judge and get it dismissed. However, the driver being honest may inadvertently admit guilt without realizing it.

Always consult a traffic attorney. Traffic court is their livelihood, just as driving a truck is yours. Would you hand the keys of your rig over to a lawyer to back it up to the shipping platform? Of course, not; that’s precisely why you should not represent yourself in traffic court. It might look effortless until you have to do it.

A traffic attorney’s only job is to raise the level of “reasonable doubt” about whether your actions were safe or unsafe and convince the judge that you acted within the intent of the traffic code. When the four-wheeled driver in front of you unexpectedly darts into your lane, you might not have 100 feet to signal your intention to make a safe lane change. However, the trucker usually gets blamed because the law enforcement officer only sees the action of the large vehicle from their viewpoint.

Always consult a traffic attorney before you decide to pay the fine or challenge the ticket.

Call Bigger & Harman about an Unsafe Lane Change Ticket in Truckee, CA

Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300 Se habla Español 661.349.9755.

We offer CDL holders a free initial consultation by phone or email. We realize many drivers cannot take the time to come into our office and explain their situation. Likewise, we resolve all traffic issues using a flat-rate fee so that you will know how much it will cost to resolve your traffic issue before you agree to accept our services.

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The 2019-2021 CA Commercial DriverHandbook.pdf

CVC Section 22107 & 22108, Turning and Stopping and Turning Signals

The FMCSA CFR 49 Part 383.51, Driver Disqualifications