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.