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  1. #1

    Question Changing Lanes in an Intersection

    My question involves a "potential" traffic ticket from the state of: CA

    My husband tells me that if I make a lane change while driving through a (signaled) intersection, I'm going to get a ticket! I have read the driver's handbook and there is no reference to this. If I ever get a ticket for it, I'll never hear the end of it!

    I seemed to remember that it used to be in the CVC that you couldn't do it, like over 10 or 15 years ago, but it was changed and that's why (I would guess) it is not referenced in the handbook.

    I haven't found a definitive answer to this and would really appreciate it if anybody can shed some light. Especially if there was ever a rule against it.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    3,573

    Default Re: Changing Lanes in an Intersection in CA

    Let me start by saying I'm not all that familiar with CA law, but I remember seeing something in the WA laws about it -- but I cannot find it now. The only CA reference I can find is from the Commercial Driver's Handbook. It states:
    When driving through an intersection:

    Check traffic thoroughly in all directions.
    Decelerate and yield to any pedestrians and traffic in the intersection.
    Do not change lanes or shift gears while proceeding through the intersection.
    Keep your hands on the wheel.
    I cannot find a statute which actually makes it unlawful, however. Maybe someone else, who knows CA law better, will be able to.

    Barry
    Where am I going? And why am I in this handbasket?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Changing Lanes in an Intersection in CA

    Hmmm. . . Commercial huh? Well, if it's in the Commercial Handbook, but not the standard handbook, if you (a "regular" person) get a ticket for it, that you probably have a very good chance of winning your argument in court. Of course, that's assuming you didn't do anything else (kinda dumb) to have received (the attention and) the ticket in the first place!

    And, then, there is your time, etc. to challenge it.

    I can't help but wonder why so many people think it is a clear violation. . .

    Thanks again

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    28,625

    Default Re: Changing Lanes in an Intersection in CA

    Perhaps this one:
    Quote Quoting California Vehicle Code, Sec. 21451
    (a) A driver facing a circular green signal shall proceed straight through or turn right or left or make a U-turn unless a sign prohibits a U-turn. Any driver, including one turning, shall yield the right-of-way to other traffic and to pedestrians lawfully within the intersection or an adjacent crosswalk.

    (b) A driver facing a green arrow signal, shown alone or in combination with another indication, shall enter the intersection only to make the movement indicated by that green arrow or any other movement that is permitted by other indications shown at the same time. A driver facing a left green arrow may also make a U-turn unless prohibited by a sign. A driver shall yield the right-of-way to other traffic and to pedestrians lawfully within the intersection or an adjacent crosswalk.

    (c) A pedestrian facing a circular green signal, unless prohibited by sign or otherwise directed by a pedestrian control signal as provided in Section 21456, may proceed across the roadway within any marked or unmarked crosswalk, but shall yield the right-of-way to vehicles lawfully within the intersection at the time that signal is first shown.

    (d) A pedestrian facing a green arrow turn signal, unless otherwise directed by a pedestrian control signal as provided in Section 21456, shall not enter the roadway.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    3,573

    Default Re: Changing Lanes in an Intersection

    Ooooh, I never thought of that. But, just to play "devil's advocate", doesn't statutory construction say that statutes must be read as a whole, and when items are separated by the conjunction "or", you may choose ANY one of the alternatives? So, wouldn't that simply say that, if you have a green light, you may:
    Go straight.
    Turn Left.
    Turn Right.
    Make a U-Turn
    without further qualifying those movements. Other statutes dictate HOW a driver must turn right, left, or make a U-turn. But I cannot find one that defines "go straight". The statute on driving within a lane simply says you cannot change lanes until "such movement can be made with safety".

    Anyway, it's an interesting question. And, remember, Aaron is an attorney and I am not, so there's a REALLY good chance that HIS interpretation is right, while I'm just running off at the mouth (or keyboard).

    Barry
    Where am I going? And why am I in this handbasket?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    28,625

    Default Re: Changing Lanes in an Intersection

    You could try to argue to a court that changing lanes is the same as making a "left turn" or "right turn". I believe the meaning of a "turn" is pretty clear, so I don't think you'll have much luck with that.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Changing Lanes in an Intersection

    I decided to call three local police dept.'s, Newark, Fremont and Union City, CA., and proposed a theoretical question, "If I drive through a signaled intersection, nothing to do with a left or a right turn, and I change lanes when I'm in the middle of the intersection, assuming I did it safely, is it a violation?". Newark and Union City were both quick to tell me "no, it is not a violation, assuming it was not 'an unsafe lane change'." The officer in Fremont thought he remembered something about not doing it within 100 feet of the intersection, but he couldn't find it while we were on the phone, he was going to call me back, I imagine he got busy.

    Newark didn't know if the rule had ever been on the books, Union City was sure it had never been on the books and Fremont, well, we didn't get that far.

    And there are lots more cities in CA, but I'm not "going there"!

    Appreciated the feedback folks, till I come across another one of "those" kind or (Heaven forbid!) I get a ticket! I'm good!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    1,628

    Default Re: Changing Lanes in an Intersection

    I have seen many intersections that actually do a "dog leg" such that if you were to drive "straight through", you would end up in a different lane!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Changing Lanes in an Intersection

    As a matter of fact, there is one of those "dog leg's" within a 1/2 block from one of those very city's police dept.'s, and I was so surprised one evening, to, actually witness an officer do exactly that, a lane change in the middle of the signaled intersection and "cut " somebody off! Fortunately, it did not result in an accident, in this case. Wow, I totally forgot about that!

    That particular intersection "prompts" me to change lanes, in the middle, because of it's design, more often than I can count! I can't believe I forgot about it!

    That would clearly be a case of "unsafe lane change" vs. "safe", ya think?!

    And, I'm relieved to say, at least, of the two dept.'s that told me it was NOT a violation, (unless, of course, it was unsafe!), that this one was one of them! In an odd sort of way!

    I'm sorry, i can't help but do the little (like if I were a cat and just ate a bird, but didn't really want to fess up to it!) smile!!! 'Cause that just cracks me up!

    Thank you EWYLTJ! It's always the little things that getcha!

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