U-turns are maneuvers that many Ohio drivers perform all the time. You are lost, you miss a turn, and the natural reaction is to just perform a quick U-turn in order to get you where you need to go. However, many drivers may not consider the legal ramifications of what they are doing before it is too late and they have violated a state or local law or ordinance regarding U-turns, thereby subjecting them to points on their driver’s license as well as a fine.
Experienced Cincinnati traffic lawyer Brad Groene of Luftman, Heck & Associates wanted to provide Cincinnati drivers with some information regarding this often misunderstood topic to help drivers avoid being ticketed for violating Cincinnati’s city ordinances related to U-turns.
Ohio Law Regarding U-Turns
Ohio law, surprisingly enough, depends on where you are driving in the state as to whether U-turns are permitted or not and in what circumstances they are legal. In general, Section 4511.37 of the Ohio Revised Code, which regulates the circumstances in which U-turns are legal and illegal under Ohio state law, applies statewide in Ohio. Section 4511.37 provides that U-turns are prohibited on curves, or hills if the motorist’s vehicle cannot be seen within 500 feet by the driver of any other vehicle approaching from either direction. This appears to be a somewhat permissive law as it relates to U-turns in Ohio.
Cincinnati Municipal Ordinances Related to U-Turns
Although Ohio state law does provide some guidance for Ohio drivers with respect to the legality of U-turns in Ohio, certain municipalities in Ohio set forth additional rules governing when and in what circumstances drivers are and are not permitted to make U-turns. These rules may be more restrictive than the Section 4511.37, which can mean that you may be ticketed for violating a municipal ordinance governing U-turns even if it is compliant with Ohio state law as set forth in Section 4511.37. Such regulations are permitted by Ohio state law allowing the municipalities to set forth their own, more restrictive traffic codes within their municipal ordinances.
In Cincinnati, for instance, Section 506-87 of the city’s municipal ordinances provides that, in a business district within Cincinnati, a driver “shall turn any vehicle so as to proceed in the opposite direction except where the left turn from the same direction is permitted and where a continuous center divider exists 100 feet or more in length.” Therefore, although Ohio state law applies when driving in Cincinnati’s business districts, the city also restricts U-turns more so than in other parts of Ohio in its business districts. Thus, a driver could theoretically be ticketed for completed a U-turn in a business district in Cincinnati that is technically legal according to Ohio state law but violates Cincinnati’s city ordinances.
Potential Penalties for Violating U-Turn Laws
Like many criminal and traffic infractions in Ohio, the penalties associated with making an illegal U-turn vary based upon the motorist’s driving record and, in particular, how many tickets or other moving violations the motorist has received in the past year. Making an illegal U-turn is a minor misdemeanor in Ohio, the penalty for which is a $150 fine and 2 points on your driver’s license. However, an illegal U-turn can constitute a criminal misdemeanor when you have prior moving violations within the past year.
Nonetheless, you can be compliant with Ohio state law and still violate Cincinnati’s municipal code if you make a U-turn in Cincinnati’s business district in violation of Section 506-87 of that code. That violation would set you back $100 if it is your first violation of the city’s traffic code. If it is not, then the fines and penalties are increased just like if you had violated Section 4511.37 of the Ohio Revised Code. A ticket for an illegal U-turn in Cincinnati is thus no laughing matter.
Contact Brad Groene if You’ve Received a Ticket
If you were ticketed in Cincinnati for making an illegal U-turn in violation of either Ohio state law or Cincinnati’s municipal code, it is important that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your legal options. This is particularly important if you have received multiple tickets or citations for traffic offenses in the same year as your ticket for making an illegal U-turn. In addition to monetary fines, you can receive points on your driver’s license, which can lead to increased automobile insurance rates, and potentially even more serious consequences in connection with a ticket for making an illegal U-turn.