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Court Finds “Turn Signal” Not Always Required

Posted Thursday, January 17, 2019 by Andrew Charles Huff

Must a driver always use a turn signal when making a turn from a designated turn lane? “No, you do not” says Washington Appeals Court-Division III in a recent decision involving a traffic stop due to failing to signal.

The case involved a driver who properly signaled when moving from the middle lane into a designated turn lane. Once he entered the turn lane, this driver did not “reactivate” his turn signal when turning from the designated turn lane. A police officer then conducted a traffic stop for failing to signal.

At issue is RCW 46.61.305(2), which declares that a driver must, “when required,” continuously signal an intention to turn or cross lanes during at least the last one hundred feet traveled before turning or moving lanes.

But in his appeal, Joseph Brown asks if this statute compels a driver, who properly signaled when moving into dedicated left turn lane to then reactivate his turn signal before turning left from the reserved turn lane.

The Court ruled that this statute only requires use of a signal in circumstances that implicate public safety. Because the circumstances surrounding Mr. Brown’s lefthand turn from a left-turn-only lane did not jeopardize public safety, the Court found that he did not commit a traffic violation and the stop was unlawful.

Jan. 17, 2019 - 35304-4 - State of Washington v. David Joseph Brown

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