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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
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    Default Is Left Lane Change in a "Right Turn Only" Lane Illegal

    My question involves a traffic ticket from the state of: California

    I was travelling on a road which has two lanes going in each direction. I was in the far right lane approaching an intersection that became a right turn only lane, so in an effort to keep going straight I made a lane change to the lane next to me (about 200 feet before the intersection). I was pulled over immediately for violating the "Right Turn Only" sign (violation of code 22101). The lanes were not separated by a solid line, so I felt that this was okay. Additionally, the documentation in violation code 22101 states in part (a) that traffic control devices are erected adjacent to an intersection to regulate or prohibit turning movements AT such intersections. Since my lane change was prior to the intersection and was not at, in the middle of, or after the intersection, and since I did not cross lanes on a solid line (as there was no solid line), is my action still violating this code?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Default Re: Is Left Lane Change in a "Right Turn Only" Lane Illegal

    Is there a "Right Lane Must Turn Right" sign posted somewhere?

    Take a picture (or a few) of the road approaching the intersection and fight the ticket on the grounds that you changed lanes before the solid white line.

    However, be prepoared for the officer to testify otherwise. That is just a guess though.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
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    Default Re: Is Left Lane Change in a "Right Turn Only" Lane Illegal

    There are two "Right Turn Only Signs" when approaching the intersection (although the first one is partially obstructed by a tree until you get about 15 feet in front of the sign, which is about where I made my lane change), and there is definitely not a solid line separating the lanes.

    I'm having a tough time deciding whether I want to fight the ticket since it is my word against the officer's, because going to court to fight the ticket would mean I waive my right to go to traffic school and get the violation off my record (not quite sure if the additional insurance costs would be worth it if I were to lose in court).

    Which argument do you think would stand better chances in court, the fact that the lane was dotted or that the view of the "right turn only" sign was partially obstructed? Or both?

    Thanks so much for the help.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Is Left Lane Change in a "Right Turn Only" Lane Illegal

    Quote Quoting t_pentolino
    View Post
    I'm having a tough time deciding whether I want to fight the ticket since it is my word against the officer's, because going to court to fight the ticket would mean I waive my right to go to traffic school and get the violation off my record (not quite sure if the additional insurance costs would be worth it if I were to lose in court).
    That is a decision you have to make on your own... I can't help you there.

    Quote Quoting t_pentolino
    View Post
    Which argument do you think would stand better chances in court, the fact that the lane was dotted or that the view of the "right turn only" sign was partially obstructed? Or both?
    I'd argue both... I would make those arguments as part of my cross examination of the officer as opposed to just making a "statement" after he's testified. The way I would ask the question would probably have a bigger impact if you were to ask: "Are the lines dotted a certain way?" & "Is the sign obstructed by a tree?" as opposed to "Do you remember if...?".

    Depending on his answer, you can then present pictures of either the lines or the obstructed tree (make 3 copies of the picture; one for the judge, one for the officer and one for you).

    Pesonally, I think that the location of the "first" sign versus where you actually made the lane change will most likely give you a weaker argument (assuming you completed the lane change before you passed the sign) than arguing that the line was not solid, but I would still use both.

    Also, do you rmember where the officer was when you made the lane change? If so, then you should also take a picture of where you made the lane change from his prospective. Assuming he was far enough, or did not have a clear view of the sign/striped lines, you can argue that he was unable to definitively determine whether you committed the alleged violation or not... If he was right behind you though, that might not work.

    Back to your original post...

    Quote Quoting t_pentolino
    View Post
    Additionally, the documentation in violation code 22101 states in part (a) that traffic control devices are erected adjacent to an intersection to regulate or prohibit turning movements AT such intersections. Since my lane change was prior to the intersection and was not at, in the middle of, or after the intersection, and since I did not cross lanes on a solid line (as there was no solid line), is my action still violating this code?
    The way I interpret 22101, the fact that you changed lanes outside of the intersection does not necessirely mean that you did not commit the violation. If, for example you changed lanes after the line turned to a solid line or after you passed the sign, then you could be considered in violation even though you did not change lanes "inside" the intersection.

    You might also want to look for supporting documentation in the California MUTCD. The placement of the sign as well as the guidance that manual will provide (make a copy of the page that shows what the standard/guidance for "Right Turn Only" lanes is), might demonstrate further than the lane change, and as long as it was completed before the solid white line, is not in violation of the statute.

    Lastly, let me also ask this... What does your citation say as far as the violation code? Does it list a specific subsection (should be (22101(b) or 22101(d)...)?

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