Tag Archives: Illegal U-turn

Improper Turn Law New Jersey

Under New Jersey law, the following may constitute a “turn:”
A turn at an intersection
An entry into a driveway or private roadway
A move to the right or left upon a roadway
A deviation from a direct course
A lane change

As a basic regulation for how and in what direction a vehicle must turn, the Motor Vehicle Code enforces that all vehicles turning right must remain close to the right-hand side of the roadway both while approaching a turn and while taking the turning.  The same must also apply for vehicles turning left.

A turn signal must be activated at a continuous rate during, at minimum, the last 100-feet before turning.  There are three key elements of a turn signal offense: a turn, failure to give an appropriate signal, and the presence of other traffic that may be affected by the turn.

The Supreme Court ruled in State v. Williamson (1994), that a signal is only necessary when there is a likely risk of affecting nearby traffic.  This means that a signal is mandatory only if your anticipated movement has the potential, or is “in some degree likely,” to affect another vehicle.  The Williamson case also ruled that a signal should not be used merely as a means of accident avoidance, as motorists driving even within the remote vicinity may be affected by the signaling driver’s movements.  When ruling on the legality of a police vehicle halting a non-signaling vehicle, the court decided that the state need not demonstrate that any other traffic in the area was affected, indicating that the police vehicle itself can qualify as such “affected” traffic.

Failing to signal, either before a turn or before a stop sudden decrease in speed in the state of New Jersey will result in a possible penalty of two motor vehicle points against your driver’s license.

A U-Turn involves a driver turning a vehicle around as a means to proceed in the opposite direction.  U-turns are prohibited in the following situations:
When driving upon a curve
When approaching the nearest crest of a grade
Upon any place on a highway where the view from the vehicle is obstructed within a distance of 500 feet in either direction
Upon a highway that is conspicuously marked with signs stating “no U-turn”**

In order to be punishable by law, an illegally taken U-Turn is not required to be a “true,” 180-degree turn.  In State v. Smith, for instance, the defendant was found guilty of taking an illegal U-Turn after turning left into a driveway on the opposite side of the road before backing out and continuing in the opposite direction.  An improper U-Turn may result in a penalty of up to three points against your driver’s license.

Conversely, Improper Backing or Turning, wherein a vehicle backs or turns onto a street, in a maneuver that interferes with other vehicles on the road, results in a penalty of up to two points against your driver’s license.