U-Turns ARE Legal in Ohio

[Katrina] No U-Turn (by Goombay)If you’re from Ohio and you’re like me, you’ve probably had it drilled into your head that U-Turns are illegal in the state of Ohio. They say they’re legal in Kentucky and Indiana, but not Ohio. This is simply not true.

A friend of mine was recently ticketed for making a U-Turn on a local street. He protested to the officer that the maneuver was perfectly legal, but was ticketed anyway. When he told me the story, I was a little incredulous, but I agreed to help him do some research to see what the law actually said. The offense he was ticketed for was ORC (Ohio Revised Code) 4511.37A. Here’s the text:

4511.37 Turning in roadway prohibited – exceptions.

(A) Except as provided in division (B) of this section, no vehicle shall be turned so as to proceed in the opposite direction upon any curve, or upon the approach to or near the crest of a grade, if the vehicle cannot be seen within five hundred feet by the driver of any other vehicle approaching from either direction.

When you filter through the legal jargon of this, it basically says that you are not allowed to make a U-Turn on a curve, at the top of a hill or when you can’t be seen from 500 feet away. Section B simply says that emergency vehicles can turn wherever they please (thank you very much) and Section C says it’s a misdemeanor to violate Section A. Nowhere in the ORC does it say that U-Turns are illegal anywhere else. In fact, here’s how the Ohio Responsible Driver’s Handbook says to make a U-Turn (which comes right after they tell you how to make left turns and right turns):

To make a proper U-turn, follow these instructions:

  • Use your turn signal at least 100 feet prior to turning
  • Check traffic ahead, behind and beside you before turning
  • If there’s traffic in the area, don’t make the U-turn; instead make other turns to reverse your direction
  • Check traffic again before completing final half of turn
  • Turn into the lane closest to the center line or median

NOTE: It is illegal to make a U-turn on a curve, near the top of a hill, if your vehicle cannot be seen within five hundred feet by the driver of another vehicle approaching from either direction or when a sign prohibiting U-turns is posted

Again, making a U-Turn seems to be a perfectly legal maneuver unless one of the restrictions applies. Why would the driver’s handbook tell you how to make a U-Turn if it were illegal?

With the law on his side, my friend went to court today. The officer obviously realized he was wrong because he asked to have the case dropped before my friend even had the opportunity to enter a plea.

Remember this the next time you hear someone say that “U-Turns are illegal in Ohio,” because it’s simply not the case.

NOTE: I am not a lawyer and my knowledge of the law extends no further than reading the parts of the code and handbook I have quoted above. Basically, if you get a ticket, it’s not my fault. Also, local municipalities may have their own restrictions on U-Turns.

Photo by Goombay.

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10 Responses to “U-Turns ARE Legal in Ohio”

  1. jmoudry Says:

    My date in court is next month. I’ll let you know, but I had the same read of the ORC as did an attorney friend (though he did not render an official legal opinion).

  2. Sam Says:

    Just got a u-turn ticket. how did you make out in court???
    Just like to know what your out come was. That will help me to know if i should try to fight it or not.
    Thanks.
    Sam

  3. Josh Says:

    loved the way you said it, keep it coming! קידום אתרים

  4. Congress Works For Us Says:

    Section B doesn’t give emergency vehicles carte blanche; there is a caveat:

    “This division applies only when the emergency vehicle or public safety vehicle is responding to an emergency call, is equipped with and displaying at least one flashing, rotating, or oscillating light visible under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of five hundred feet to the front of the vehicle, and when the driver of the vehicle is giving an audible signal by siren, exhaust whistle, or bell.”

    Note that both lights AND siren must be operative to make a U-Turn by emergency personnel a legal one.

  5. Legal Driver Says:

    Just as another observation – the ORC does mention U-Turns in other sections of the code – the most relevant of which is ORC 4511.13 which shows what manouvers are applicable when traffic signals are evident and it shows that U-Turns are allowable – so it is more than just the handbook that mentions the legality of U-Turns. If a smaller municipality has additional restrictions on U-Turns they must be sign posted in the area where the restriction applies – usually the portion of road/highway with the restriction or can be posted at the township or municipality boundaries. It is always worth fighting a U-Turn ticket in Ohio as it is basically a legal vehicle manouver

  6. The Turbinator Says:

    I am an Aussie and in 2006 was driving on Hwy 52 (Ohio River Scenic Byway) on my way to Huntington. At one point I took a wrong turn off the byway, so did a U-turn to go back to the byway. This was 1AM in the morning, and as I was on the ramp back onto 52, I was stopped by a policeman, who promptly explained that “Sir, you can’t do a U-turn in Ohio”. I was amazed over this and asked him what are you supposed to do. He replied you can pull up into a driveway and then reverse out again. Having driven in many places around the world, I found this rule to be very strange, but nonetheless, I had obviously broken the law. After seeing my Australian license, the police officer took pity on me and let me off with a warning! Nevertheless, after reading all the above, the law regarding U-turns in Ohio seems very complicated, and I probably would have just paid the fine if it came to that.

  7. J Says:

    You left out 4511.37 Turning in roadway prohibited – exceptions.
    (A) Except as provided in section 4511.13 <———-

    4511.13 Highway traffic signal indications; section not applicable to railroad crossings.

    Highway traffic signal indications for vehicles and pedestrians shall have the following meanings:

    (A) Steady green signal indication:

    (1)

    (a) Vehicular traffic, streetcars, and trackless trolleys facing a circular green signal indication are permitted to proceed straight through or turn right or left or make a u-turn movement except as such movement is modified by a lane-use sign, turn prohibition sign, lane marking, roadway design, separate turn signal indication, or other traffic control device. Such vehicular traffic, including vehicles turning right or left or making a u-turn movement, shall yield the right-of-way to both of the following:

    Basically states that if there is a U-turn prohibited sign then it is an illegal maneuver. Even then it would have to be in an instance where you are either at a green light or not crossing a double yellow.


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