Making an improper U-turn is prohibited by Ohio Revised Code Section 4511.37. Under Section 4511.37(A), a driver is prohibited from turning a vehicle 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. The making of a U-turn is subject to the requirements of Section 4511.13, which are discussed on the webpage titled Disobeying a Traffic Signal. The Ohio Revised Code has carved out an exception to these rules for emergency vehicles responding to a call.
It should be noted that certain jurisdictions in the Columbus metropolitan area, by local ordinance, have prohibited drivers from making U-turns, with exceptions for emergency vehicles, public safety vehicles, and government vehicles. Jurisdictions with such blanket prohibition include Bexley, Canal Winchester, Columbus, Grandview Heights, Obetz, Reynoldsburg, and Upper Arlington. Other jurisdictions, including Hilliard and Worthington, have a similar prohibition against making U-turns, except where a sign indicates such movement is permitted. These local ordinances seemingly conflict with Section 4511.37. Nevertheless, the Tenth District Court of Appeals (which decides appeals of cases in Franklin County) has upheld the lawfulness of prohibitions in local ordinances against making U-turns in City of Columbus v. Knoff, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 86AP-285, 1986 WL 10745 and Columbus v. Liddell, 2015-Ohio-867 (10th Dist. Franklin).
Penalty For Making An Improper U-Turn
Making an improper U-turn is classified as a minor misdemeanor. The potential penalty for a minor misdemeanor traffic offense includes the imposition of a fine of up to $150, up to thirty hours of community service, and court costs.
But if, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to one predicate motor vehicle or traffic offense, then making an improper U-turn is elevated to a fourth-degree misdemeanor. The potential penalty for a fourth-degree misdemeanor traffic infraction includes the imposition of a jail term of not more than 30 days, an additional or alternative community control sanction plus reimbursement for the cost of this sanction, a fine of up to $250 and court costs.
And if, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of two or more predicate motor vehicle or traffic offenses, then making an improper U-turn is elevated to a third-degree misdemeanor. The penalty for a third-degree misdemeanor traffic infraction includes the potential imposition of a jail term of not more than 60 days, an additional or alternative community control sanction plus reimbursement for the cost of this sanction, a fine of up to $500 and court costs.
Community control sanctions generally can include residential placement, house arrest, drug/alcohol testing and treatment, specified education and training, community service, curfew, probation, etc. Under certain circumstances, the court also may order an offender to pay restitution to any identifiable victim who incurred an economic loss as a result of the violation.
Points Assessed For Making An Improper U-Turn
A conviction on a traffic ticket for making an improper U-turn carries two points in Ohio on an offender’s driving record. For more information on how the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) processes points for moving violations and the substantial penalty for excessive points accumulation, press Ohio BMV Points System.
Talk To A Traffic Attorney About Your Ticket
Frequently a lawyer can appear in court and resolve a traffic case in the client’s absence, provided both the court and the prosecutor agree. This saves the client the aggravation of taking time off from work, fighting traffic to get to court on time, waiting for potentially hours for the case to be called, standing in long lines and potentially having to do it all over again if the case is continued.