How to Fight an Improper Turn Ticket in New York City

How to Fight an Improper Turn Ticket in New York City

What is a Legal Driving Turn in New York City?

The New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law (“VTL”) Title VII, Section 28 provides definitions for what is and is not a legal turn while driving. The law applies not only to New York City, but throughout the entire state.

Section 1160(a) of the VTL defines a proper right-hand turn. In simple terms, a right turn should occur from the right lane closest to the curb into the right-hand lane after the turn.  Section 1160(b) defines a left-hand turn and has a more complicated description due to the potential issues of crossing lanes in front of oncoming traffic. These descriptions, however, essentially describe what most drivers are taught when first learning to drive.

Section 1161 describes the conditions in which U-turns are prohibited when no signage indicates that U-turns are illegal. Again, the descriptions are about safety and visibility, no different from what drivers are taught when they first start driving. Lines of sight should be long enough for any oncoming cars to see the U-turn in motion, particularly near curves and crests of hills. U-turns are always illegal in school zones.

What Is an Improper Turn in New York City?

The VTL specifically states in Section 1163 that any deviation from the rules in Section 1160 is considered an improper turn in New York City. The section also provides further rules for the use of turning signals. Failure to use turning signals properly is a separate violation from an improper turn and can often be an additional offense for the same incident.

What Are the Penalties for an Improper Turn in New York City?

Drivers are typically cited for an improper turn in New York under Section 1163 of the New York VTL. Since an improper turn citation is a moving violation, fines and penalties are governed by Section 1800.

Penalties for violating turning rules can include:

  • Points on the driver’s license

  • Processing fees up to $93 for each separate violation

  • Escalating Fines

Violation of Sections 1160 and 1163 are assessed 2 points for each violation. Points accumulate on a license over a rolling 18-month period. If a driver acquires 11 points or more, the license may be suspended.

What Is the Fine for an Improper Turn Ticket?

The fines for an improper turn violation can be substantial.

  • Up to $150 for a first offense, with potential imprisonment up to 15 days

  • Up to $300 for a second offense within 18 months, with potential imprisonment up to 45 days

  • and up to $450 for a third offense within 18 months, with potential imprisonment up to 90 days.

How Can You Fight an Improper Turn Ticket in New York City?

As with many traffic situations, receiving an improper turn ticket in New York City depends on context and the discretion of the police or traffic enforcement officer. In order to understand if you have been unfairly cited, a New York City traffic attorney can help you assess your case. The legal system for traffic tickets can be confusing, and traffic lawyers often know the best way to navigate the process. They can potentially help reduce or eliminate points, get tickets dismissed if they are improperly executed, and ensure that any penalties are fair and valid.




With our 60 years of combined experience working with the New York Legal System and Most NY Traffic Courts,  our team of local traffic lawyers will defend your tickets saving you money and time.  We will aggressively contest your violations and seek to reduce your sentence, lower fines, and avoid getting points in order to prevent suspension or revocation of your license as well as increased insurance premiums

Michael Beer