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How does a legal U-turn become illegal?

On Behalf of | Oct 3, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Typically, drivers should feel as if the car is an extension of themselves, staying aware of vehicles and any possible dangers. Understanding the many rules of the road, such as those regarding U-turns, is a part of this awareness. While Kentucky roads do not prohibit making U-turns, certain things could make them illegal.

Making illegal U-turns

While legal under many circumstances, a U-turn can quickly become illegal once a driver fails to obey road rules and traffic signs. There are scenarios where such a turn can escalate from being not only illegal but also extremely dangerous. This occurs when a driver isn’t sufficiently vigilant, turning a seemingly simple U-turn into a potentially fatal and unlawful maneuver.

For example, a legal U-turn might become dangerous and illegal in situations where:

  • Turning where there is limited visibility of oncoming traffic from either direction, such as at a blind spot, around a bend or in poor weather conditions
  • When one does not yield at an intersection that could interfere with the traffic of a heavy stream of cars
  • When a driver ignores a “No U-turn” sign or a red traffic light and proceeds to make the U-turn

Ignoring traffic rules not only gives law enforcement grounds to take action against the driver but also increases the risk of an accident with others. Other drivers traveling at a reasonable speed may not expect a sudden U-turn. As such, a vehicle making an unexpected, albeit legal, U-turn could become risky. This is risky not only to the driver making the U-turn but also to others.

Defensive driving

In some cases, a driver making a U-turn might argue that it was a necessary action. Emergencies may occasionally warrant risky maneuvers, like dodging unexpected road obstacles. Or one could attribute the collision to another driver’s negligence. In such cases, mounting a defense might require gathering witnesses or camera footage.

Therefore, while a U-turn could be a legal and helpful maneuver in many situations, it could lead to risky outcomes. If accused of making an illegal U-turn, establishing a defense on the grounds of practicing defensive driving could provide a lifeline for a driver who did not intend to endanger anyone.