U-turns are legal, but there are still ways you can be penalized for making one
Let’s be honest about driving here. There are things we know are a bit more dangerous, but we still do it all the time. Case in chief: the U-turn.
But people still want to know if they can get away with it. I recently received a question along these lines on my Michigan Auto Law blog:
Q. Is making a u-turn reasonable grounds for an officer to pull you over, if the U-turn was completed safely at 2:30 a.m. with no other cars in sight?
A. U-turns are technically legal in Michigan. The Michigan Vehicle Code does not prohibit U-turns (or even address them).
Still, (you knew there would be a caveat, right? After all, this is a legal blog) there are ways you can be penalized for making a u-turn in Michigan, and in many other states as well:
- If there’s a sign that prohibits a U-turn, a driver who makes this turn can be ticketed.
- The Michigan Vehicle Code prohibits drivers from interfering with the normal flow of traffic, so a motorist who impedes traffic by making a U-turn can be ticketed.
- State law requires motorists to ensure that any turn “can be made in safety” and to use appropriate signals. Applying this to U-turn, the Uniform Traffic Code adopted by many municipalities prohibits a driver from turning around — unless the movement can be made safely and without interfering with traffic.
Please remember, U-turns are more dangerous than other more ordinary and more expected types of driving maneuvers. My best legal advice is to avoid them if possible, because they have the potential to go wrong very quickly and cause serious car accidents. Drivers easily and commonly underestimate distance and speed of oncoming drivers, and other drivers on the road aren’t expecting you to make a U-turn. The potential for causing or becoming involved in a motor vehicle accident goes up.
Just because it’s legal and you can get away with it, doesn’t mean you should be making U-turns.
For more information, take a look at our blog post, “Are U-Turns legal in Michigan?”