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Courts Correct Police Error on Left Turn Law

Posted on in Criminal Law

Courts Correct Police Error on Left Turn LawMany drivers have learned that they should stay in the left-most lane after making a left turn at an intersection and onto a different street. A wider left turn that puts you into the far lane of traffic could be dangerous if an oncoming vehicle decides to make a right turn into the same lane. However, do you know whether this is a traffic law or a safe driving practice? The answer is consequential if a police officer stops you for making an illegal left turn and finds other violations that result in your arrest. An Illinois appellate court recently upheld a circuit court ruling that said that such left turns are not illegal under Illinois law.

Case Details

In the case of People v. Walker, an officer stopped the defendant for making an improper left turn because the defendant had turned into the far right lane instead of the near left lane. As a result of the stop, the driver received a ticket for driving while his license was revoked. The defendant asked the court to suppress the evidence because the officer lacked a reasonable suspicion that the defendant had committed a traffic violation before the stop. The sides were not arguing about the facts of the case but the interpretation of the Illinois traffic law, which states:

  • A driver intending to turn left should use the extreme left lane that is legally available;
  • After entering the intersection, the driver should leave the intersection by turning into a lane that is lawfully available for a vehicle heading that direction; and
  • Whenever practical, the driver should make the left turn in the portion of the intersection that is to the left of the center of the intersection.

The circuit court granted the defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence from the stop because the defendant had not violated the traffic law. On appeal, the appellate court agreed that the law clearly does not restrict which lane a driver may enter after making a left turn. Further, the officer’s misinterpretation of the law did not justify the stop or make the evidence he found admissible in court.

Unlawful Traffic Stops

An officer is effectively detaining a driver when he or she performs a traffic stop. Thus, stopping a driver without a reasonable suspicion that the driver has broken the law violates the driver’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. A DuPage County criminal defense attorney at Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, will contest your unreasonable traffic stops and tickets. To schedule a consultation, call 630-260-9647.


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