An important part of driving safely is knowing when and how to perform a U-turn maneuver. Making a U-turn with no warning or on a roadway that limits another driver’s field of vision is a moving traffic violation and could result in injury to you or somebody else. These potentially dangerous turns are regulated by both state and municipal ordinances.
A violation for making a prohibited U-turn could have serious consequences on your life and driving record. To avoid this lasting impact, you made need the help of an experienced Columbus traffic defense lawyer.
Ohio Law Regarding U-Turns
How and if U-turns may be performed depends on where you are in Ohio. According to the Ohio traffic code statute 4511.37 U-turns are prohibited on curves, or hills if the vehicle “cannot be seen within 500 feet by the driver of any other vehicle approaching from either direction.” This means that according to state law, U-turns are legal in many circumstances.
This has proven confusing for many drivers, because while Ohio state law allows U-turns under many circumstances, many cities in Ohio have local ordinances banning the practice entirely. For example, municipal ordinance 2131.12 prohibits all U-turns in the city of Columbus. This means if you’re in Columbus, even if you are following Ohio state law for making an appropriate U-turn, you may still be ticketed by local police for violating the local ordinance.
Penalties for an Ohio U-Turn Ticket
Most violations for a prohibited U-turn are minor misdemeanors that are punishable by up to $150 in fines. However, if you plead or are found guilty of a violation for a prohibited U-turn and have previously been convicted of another traffic offense within the last year, you may be found guilty of a fourth degree misdemeanor which is punishable by up to $250 in fines and 30 days in jail. If you have two or more previous traffic violations in the last year you may be found guilty of a 3rd degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to $500 in fines and 60 days in jail.
Other Possible Consequences for a U-Turn Ticket in Columbus
A violation for a prohibited U-turn can have many other potential consequences, especially if you already have other violations on your driving record.
Possible consequences include:
- Driver’s License Points – A violation for a prohibited U-turn adds 2 points to your license in Ohio. If you have over 12 points on your license, the BMV will automatically suspend your driving privileges for six months. Depending on your driving record, those two points could push you into an automatic suspension.
- Background Checks – Today, many institutions and organizations run background checks on applicants. This means employers, colleges, and licensing organizations like the state Bar. Having a violation for a prohibited U-turn on your record, especially if it’s in conjunction with several other violations, could make it harder for you to secure employment or get into a university. If driving is part of your current job, your employer may run periodic background checks. Violations on your record could lead to probation or even termination from employment.
- Higher Insurance – Insurance providers use traffic violations and points on your license to calculate what kind of risk you are, and what kind of rate you qualify for. More violations on your record means higher risk for insurance companies, and higher insurance premiums for you. Insurance rates can rise with as little as one violation on your record.
- Civil Liability – Depending on the circumstances leading to your U-Turn ticket, you could be exposed to civil liability. If you were in an accident or injured another driver or pedestrian, or caused damage to someone’s property, you may be sued. A violation for a prohibited U-turn may be offered as evidence of proof of your guilt, increasing the chances of a judgment against you.
How a Columbus Criminal Defense Attorney can Help You Beat an Ohio U-Turn Ticket
A Columbus traffic defense lawyer will help you fight your ticket by exploring a number of possible defenses on your behalf.
Possible defenses for your Ohio U-Turn ticket include:
- Another Driver was at Fault If another driver was speeding or otherwise driving recklessly and that’s why you were unable to see where they were and assess whether or not it was proper to perform a U-turn, this may be a defense against making a prohibited turn. Your lawyer will interview any possible witnesses to find out what they saw or heard.
- You Actually Didn’t Make an Improper Turn
- Good Driving Record
Police officers are capable of making mistakes, and it’s possible that you actually made a perfectly lawful U-turn when you were ticketed. Your lawyer will interview any witnesses and your ticketing officer about what they heard and saw, and how and why they concluded your turn was improper in order to help build your defense.
If you have relatively few, or no, other offenses on your driving record, your lawyer may be able to convince a prosecutor or judge to be lenient with you. This may mean adding no points to your license, smaller fines, or attending a driver’s training course instead of being found guilty at all.
Call today for a free consultation with one of our Columbus traffic violation attorneys. We can help you avoid the long term consequences of having a violation on your driving record. We’re here 24 hours a day to answer your questions, and help you build a defense against your traffic ticket. You can reach us by phone at (614) 500-3836 or email at email@example.com.