Ask the Motor Cop | Can you circle back to the U-turn question? 


Question: Hi Jerry, I enjoy reading your columns and I find them educational. The topics are a reminder of what I might have known in the past but have forgotten. I think I know about U-turn violations, but can you go over it? Thanks again. 

— Barbara 

Answer: Hi Barbara, thanks for the kind words. Probably the most common U-turn violations are at intersections where “No U-turn” signs are posted and U-turns mid-block in a business district. 

Generally, you can make a U-turn at any intersection unless a “No U-turn” sign is posted.  

You can make a U-turn in a residential district if there are no vehicles approaching you within 200 feet and you have an unobstructed view for 200 feet in both directions. 

If not in a business district, you can make a U-turn across a solid double yellow line but not across two sets of solid double yellow lines, which is a divider. And, never in front of a fire station. 

A U-turn is not allowed in between intersections in a business district unless there is an opening in the divider or from a two-way left turn lane when otherwise permitted by law. 

Understand that the vehicle code defines business structures as: “All churches, apartments, hotels, multiple-dwelling houses, clubs and public buildings, other than schools.” These are business structures by law. 

Here’s a side note: According to the vehicle code, ”A U-turn is the turning of a vehicle upon a highway so as to proceed in the opposite direction whether accomplished by one continuous movement or not.” A three-point turn is a legal U-turn.  

Barbara, these are general understandings of our U-turn laws as it does get more technical. But thanks for the question and drive carefully. 

Jerry Schlund, a Santa Clarita Valley resident, is a retired Los Angeles Police Department motor officer with over 24 years riding. He was a certified radar instructor — both laser and doppler — and was instrumental in California vehicle code amendments. He was a traffic school instructor for 25 years. Have a question for the motor cop? Send your questions to [email protected]    

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