Turning on California’s Roadways
Vehicle Code 22100

Vehicle Code 22100 directs how and when right-hand and left-hand turns get made on California roadways.

There are six important points to know about this code section.

  • In general, VC 22100 requires drivers turning right to do so as close as possible to the right-hand curb, or the right edge of the road.
  • Similarly, under Vehicle Code 22100, drivers turning left must do so as close as possible to the left-hand curb, or left edge of the road.
  • A driver that makes an improper turn must pay a fine of $238.00.
  • A motorist that violates VC 22100 also receives one point on his DMV driving record. A driver risks getting a negligent operator license suspension if he receives 4 points in 12 months, 6 points in 24 months, or 8 points in 36 months.
  • Drivers can challenge a ticket for an improper turn by raising a legal defense. It's best, though, for drivers to consult with an experienced California defense attorney before doing so.
  • Motorists cannot ignore tickets for violating Vehicle Code 22100. This results in the violation of a new law, failure to appear, pursuant to California Vehicle Code 40508. This violation may be charged as a misdemeanor.

Our California personal injury attorneys will highlight the following in this article:

california turning on roadways law traffic legal defense
Vehicle Code 22100 directs how and when right-hand and left-hand turns get made on California roadways.

1. Vehicle Code 22100 VC – When and how drivers must turn in California

Vehicle Code 22100 regulates how drivers must make right and left turns upon California roadways. VC 22100 (a) pertains to right-hand turns and VC 22100 (b) controls left-hand turns.

1.1 Vehicle Code 22100 (a) and proper right-hand turns in California

Under Vehicle Code 22100 (a):

Both the approach for a right-hand turn and a right-hand turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway…1

There are, however, three exceptions to this general rule. These are:

  1. If a driver is traveling on a three-lane road that ends at a two-way road, he may turn right from the middle lane into any lane lawfully available.2
  2. If a driver is turning right from a one-way road, he must:
  3. approach the turn according to the general rule above; and,
  4. shall complete the turn in any lane lawfully available.3
  5. If a driver is traveling on a road with lanes marked for a right turn, he may turn right from any marked turn lane.4

1.2 Vehicle Code 22100 (b) and proper left-hand turns in California

Under Vehicle Code 22100 (b):

The approach for a left turn shall be made as close as practicable to the left-hand edge of the extreme left-hand lane…5

The code section provides three additional rules. These are:

  1. A driver cannot start a left turn before entering the intersection.6
  2. A left turn can be made into any lane lawfully available.7
  3. If a driver is traveling on a three-lane road that ends at a two-way road, he may turn left from the middle lane into any lane lawfully available.8

2. The penalties for an improper turn

A driver receives two penalties for violating Vehicle Code 22100 VC. These are:

  1. A fine; and,
  2. Points on his California State driving record.

2.1 Fine

A driver that makes an improper right or left turn receives a ticket and must pay a corresponding fine.

The fine for violating VC 22100 is $238.00.9

2.2 Points on the motorist's California State driving record

Drivers that violate Vehicle Code 22100 will also receive one point on their DMV driving record.10 This is not a good thing. Points are ultimately reported to a driver's insurance carrier. The result is that the driver's insurance rates increase for several years.

A further problem occurs when a driver receives multiple points on his driving record in a certain period of time. If a driver in California receives 4 points in 12 months, 6 points in 24 months, or 8 points in 36 months, the DMV can either suspend or revoke his driving privileges.

Please note, though, that either action will require a California DMV hearing.

3. Legal defenses if a driver violates Vehicle Code 22100 VC

A driver that receives a ticket for an improper turn can try to challenge the ticket by raising a legal defense. If this is done, though, it's best for the driver to contact an experienced California defense attorney for help.

3.1 Common defenses if accused of making an improper turn

There are five common defenses if accused of a VC 22100 violation. These are:

  1. The driver made a right or left turn while as close as practicable to the right or left curb, given all of the applicable circumstances.
  2. The driver made a turn from a middle lane, but he was on a three-lane road and made the turn into a lane lawfully available.
  3. An emergency made it impossible to follow VC 22100.
  4. The citing officer made a mistake.
  5. An improper turn was required for safety reasons.11

No matter the specific defense raised, a driver must support it with credible evidence. The best evidence to use is:

  • Witness statements;
  • Photographs; and/or,
  • Surveillance video.
california turning on roadways legal defense
It's best for motorists to contact an experienced California traffic ticket attorney for assistance.

3.2 Contact an attorney for help

Drivers can represent themselves when trying to beat a ticket for an improper turn. But, it's best for motorists to contact an experienced California traffic ticket attorney for assistance.

Hiring a lawyer for help is important for four main reasons. These include:

  1. Prosecutors often give better deals to drivers with lawyers.
  2. Defense attorneys understand how to get charges reduced and dismissed.
  3. A driver represented by an attorney does not have to go to court. The driver's attorney can go on his behalf.
  4. Defense attorneys know the best defense to raise on a client's behalf.

4. Violations of Vehicle Code 22100 VC and traffic school

Drivers that get ticketed for an improper turn do not have to go to traffic school. But, they can choose to do so.

Note that if a driver goes to traffic school, he must still pay his fine of $238.00.12 However, the driver generally does not receive any points on his DMV driving record.13

In general, a driver in California can volunteer for traffic school if:

  1. The driver has a valid driver's license;
  2. The offense occurred while the driver was driving a noncommercial vehicle; and,
  3. The ticket is for an infraction that is a moving violation.

5. Violations of VC 22100 and criminal charges

Failing to obey Vehicle Code 22100 does not result in criminal charges. This is because it's not a crime in California if a driver does not make a proper right-hand or left-hand turn.

VC 22100 violations are infractions under California law. As such, drivers guilty of making improper turns do not have to face jail time or other criminal penalties.

california turning on roadways don't ignore ticket legal defense
Motorists cannot ignore a ticket for making an improper turn.

6. Ignoring a ticket for violating VC 22100

Motorists cannot ignore a ticket for making an improper turn. Two things happen if this occurs. These are:

  1. The driver violates California Vehicle Code 40508 VC, for the failure to appear in court on a traffic citation; and,
  2. The driver receives penalties for violating VC 40508.

6.1 Violation of Vehicle Code 40508 VC

If a driver gets a ticket in California, he must sign a written promise to appear in court. He promises to appear at a certain time and place (this is unless he is represented by a defense attorney – see 3.2 above).

If the driver willfully fails to appear, he violates Vehicle Code 40508 VC.14 The driver willfully fails to appear when he is willingly a no-show. It's not even a defense if the driver did not intend to break the law.15

It also does not matter whether the offending driver is guilty or innocent of the underlying traffic ticket.16 He violates Vehicle Code 40508 just by breaking a promise to:

  • Appear in court,
  • Appear to pay bail,
  • Pay bail in installments,
  • Pay a fine within the time authorized, or
  • Comply with any condition of the court.17

6.2 Penalties for violating VC 40508

A violation of Vehicle Code 40508 VC is a misdemeanor. The penalties include:

  • Up to six months in county jail, and/or
  • A fine of up to $1,000.18

7. Improper turns and how they affect a personal injury lawsuit

A driver that violates Vehicle Code 22100 may cause an accident with another motorist, or even a pedestrian. If the motorist/pedestrian is injured and later files a personal injury lawsuit against the driver, the driver may be found "negligent."

California law defines "negligence" as the failure to use reasonable care to prevent harm to oneself or to others. When it comes to auto accidents, negligent drivers are considered at fault for the accident and they may have to pay for any damages caused.

Proving negligence in a personal injury case can sometimes be difficult. But, in California, a driver is considered "negligent per se" if he violates a statute.

Negligence “per se” is a type of legal theory. It presumes a driver is negligent if he violates a statute or ordinance

This means a driver would be negligent per se for making an improper turn because that act is in violation of VC 22100.

Please note, however, that even if a driver is negligent per se, he may still be able to recover for any damages he incurs. This is because of California's comparative fault laws.

8. Laws related to Vehicle Code 22100 VC

There are several laws related to VC 22100. These include:

  1. Illegal U-turns at intersections - Vehicle Code 22100.5;
  2. U-turns in business and residential districts – Vehicle Code 22102-22103; and,
  3. Signals before turning or changing lanes – Vehicle Code 22108.

8.1 Illegal U-turns at intersections – Vehicle Code 22100.5

Per VC 22100.5, drivers make an illegal U-turn in California when they make one at an intersection controlled by a traffic signal where a sign prohibits it.

California Vehicle Code 22100.5 states:

No driver shall make a U-turn at an intersection controlled by official traffic signals except as provided in Section 21451.19

According to Vehicle Code 21451 (a), a driver approaching a green light can make a U-turn unless a sign prohibits it.20 If a U-turn is allowed, the motorist must yield the right-of-way to any traffic or pedestrians within the intersection or crosswalk.21

Further, Vehicle Code 21451 (b) states that drivers approaching a green arrow signal can make a U-turn unless a sign prohibits it.22 Again, if a U-turn is allowed, the motorist must yield the right-of-way to any traffic or pedestrians within the intersection or crosswalk.23

VC 22100.5 goes on to state that when U-turns are permissible, drivers must make them from the far left-hand lane.

Drivers that violate California Vehicle Code Section 22100.5 VC will receive:

  1. A fine of $234; and,
  2. One point assessed to the driver's DMV driving record.

8.2 U-turns in business and residential districts – Vehicle Code 22102-22103

California Vehicle Codes 22102 and 22103 pertain to making U-turns in California business and residential districts.

VC 22102 makes it unlawful for a driver to make a U-turn in a business district, unless the driver makes the turn at an intersection or a clear opening in the street.24

Under VC 22103, it's unlawful for drivers in a residence district to make a U-turn when another vehicle is approaching from either direction within 200 feet.25 The only exception is when a driver is at an intersection controlled by an official traffic device.26

The penalties for violating these California U-turn laws are the same for violations of VC 22100.5 – a fine of $234 and one point on the driver's DMV driving record.

8.3 Signals before turning or changing lanes – Vehicle Code 22108

Pursuant to California Vehicle Code 22108 VC, drivers must signal before turning or changing lanes.

Further, VC 22108 requires all drivers to signal at least 100 feet prior to making a turn or changing lanes.27

The section states:

Any signal of intention to turn right or left shall be given continuously during the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.28

The purpose of a signal is to give a warning to the rear driver.29

Please note that once a driver signals, he does not have the absolute right of way within the road or intersection. California courts have stated otherwise and have imposed additional duties upon the signaling driver. These include a duty to:

  • Use reasonable care in the operation of a vehicle.30
  • Make proper observations.31
  • Exercise care in completing a turn to avoid collisions.32

A driver receives two penalties for violating Vehicle Code 22108 VC. These are:

  1. A fine of $238.00; and,
  2. One point assessed on his DMV driving record.

Were you accused of making an improper turn in California? Call us for help…

california legal defense attorneys
Call us at (855) LAW-FIRM

If you or someone you know has been cited for violating VC 22100, or has been injured in an accident in California, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. We can be reached 24/7 at 855-LAWFIRM.


Legal References:

  1. California Vehicle Code 22100 (a) VC.

  2. California Vehicle Code 22100 (a)(1) VC.

  3. California Vehicle Code 22100 (a)(2) VC.

  4. California Vehicle Code 22100 (a)(3) VC.

  5. California Vehicle Code 22100 (b) VC.

  6. See same.

  7. See same.

  8. See same.

  9. See DMV.org.

  10. See same.

  11. This defense was held valid in the California court case of Emery v. Los Angeles (1943), Cal. App. 2d 455.

  12. See California Courts website.

  13. See same.

  14. California Vehicle Code 40508 VC.

  15. CALCRIM 2240, endnote 1: Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage.

  16. See same.

  17. California Vehicle Code 40508 VC, endnote 1.

  18. California Penal Code 19 PC. Except in cases where a different punishment is prescribed by any law of this state, every offense declared to be a misdemeanor is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both.

  19. California Vehicle Code 22100.5 VC.

  20. California Vehicle Code 21451 (a) VC.

  21. See same.

  22. California Vehicle Code 21451 (b) VC.

  23. See same.

  24. California Vehicle Code 22102 VC.

  25. California Vehicle Code 22103 VC.

  26. See same.

  27. California Vehicle Code 22108 VC.

  28. See same.

  29. Coyne v. Whiffen (1933), 132 Cal. App. 699.

  30. Donahue v. Mazzoli (1938), 27 Cal. App. 2d 102.

  31. Bauer v. Davis (1941), 43 Cal. App. 2d 764.

  32. Ekwall v. Los Angeles Hat Co. (1930), 105 Cal. App. 300.

Free attorney consultations...

Our attorneys want to hear your side of the story. Contact us 24/7 to schedule a FREE consultation with a criminal defense lawyer. We may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed altogether. And if necessary, we will champion your case all the way to trial.

Regain peace of mind...

Shouse Law Defense Group has multiple locations throughout California. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

Office Locations

Shouse Law Group has multiple locations all across California, Nevada, and Colorado. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

To contact us, please select your state:

Call us 24/7 (855) 396-0370