This post is part of EverQuote’s Traffic Ticket Series. Learn more about other traffic tickets and how they affect auto insurance here.

Perhaps you were lost in a new area and made a wrong turn or you took an illegal turn because you were simply trying to save a little time. That’s when you saw the police lights in your rearview mirror.

Making an illegal turn can have consequences. Also known as improper turning, citations for driving maneuvers can add up fast. There are several types of improper turns. Here’s all you need to know about them.

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What Is an Illegal Turn?

An illegal turn occurs when a driver turns in a manner that is considered unsafe. These maneuvers can include turning on red when there’s a “No Turn On Red” sign or whipping a U-turn in a designated “No U-turn” intersection.

Regardless of where you’re traveling to or what state you’re in, there are some turns that are always illegal. These include U-turning on a main highway, cutting off other drivers, turning left into oncoming traffic without adequate room and merging into a lane too quickly.

U-turn street signIn some states, crossing into other lanes while turning is also prohibited. For example, if a driver makes a right turn onto a road with two lanes, he or she should stay to the right and avoid crossing into the left lane, as this is known as an illegal lane change. It’s important to know the driving laws of the state you’re traveling in—if you’re unsure about whether a turn is legal in a state, simply don’t do it to avoid getting hit with penalties. Use safer driving maneuvers instead.

Remember these rules and consequences when you’re in a rush to reach your destination. It’s a safe driving habit to always look for no turn signs before making a turn. Don’t make fast judgments.

Of course, some of these turns may be seen as more dangerous than others. An improper U-turn on the highway may get you caught with a larger fine than an illegal lane change, but that’s up to the officer or court and dependent upon your location. Avoid making improper turns all together and you won’t have to deal with the following consequences, fines or car insurance penalties.

Fines and Penalties for Illegal Turns:

  • Points System: Do you live in a state that has a points system? If so, you may have penalty points added onto your record for improper turns. For example, in the state of New York, an improper turn may hit you with 2 points on your record. If you receive 6 or more points over 18 months, you’ll be hit with a driver assessment fine of at least $100. If you accrue 11 points in an 18-month period, your license may be suspended which could affect your car insurance rates.

The Effect of Illegal Turns on Car Insurance:

Illegal turns often have a negligible effect on your car insurance if it’s a one-time ticket. One traffic violation for a turn on a red light is not going to raise your auto insurance rates drastically. However, illegal turns can raise your auto insurance rates depending on certain factors. If you already have other recent traffic tickets, another violation will not help you. In fact, it may signify you as a high-risk driver and your insurer may hike your rate because of that. Additionally, depending upon how many points you have in a points system state, you may see a higher premium, especially if your license has been suspended.

How to Bring Your Rate Back Down:

police officer writing ticket pulled over driverFight it. Depending on the situation, you may be able to fight the ticket citation in court. You may be able to argue that the sign identifying the illegal turn was blocked from your vision due to a telephone pole, another vehicle or the glare of the setting sun. While there’s no guarantee that your counter argument will work, there is a possibility that your ticket and fine will be dropped. However, only argue if you have the evidence to back it up. If the officer saw you turn on a red light next to a clear “No Turn On Red” sign, your plea won’t help.

Take a defensive driving class to knock points off your record. Also known as a driver improvement course, these classes teach safe driving habits and good driving behavior. If you pass, most states allow you to take points off your record. For example, in Georgia, a driver can get up to 7 points deducted from their record with a certificate showing proof of a safe driving class. However, a driver can only get a reduction once every 5 years. If you aren’t in a points system state, it’s still worth it to take a defensive driving course because it may prove to your insurer that you are now serious about driving safely.   

Wait it out. By simply waiting out your traffic violations, you may see a decrease in your insurance rate. Auto insurance providers typically only look at the past 5 years of your driving history, unless there’s a major offense such as a DUI or a hit-and-run.

Illegal turns aren’t worth the hassle or the fines and penalties. Drive safe today and every day to make better roads and save money. If you’re unsure about your driving skills, try measuring them with EverDrive

Photo credits: woodleywonderworks, Smurrayinchester