Police Officers can legally pull a person over for just about any violation of the California Vehicle Code as an excuse to investigate whether the driver of the vehicle is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, one of the more common violations officers cite as the probable cause to pull vehicles over to investigate DUI’s is Vehicle Code Section 22107, more commonly known as “unsafe turning movement”. This section reads as follows: No person shall turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a roadway until such movement can be made with reasonable safety and then only after the giving of an appropriate signal in the manner provided in this chapter in the event any other vehicle may be affected by the movement.
What this means, in a nutshell, is that you do NOT have to use your turn signal (blinker) unless there is another vehicle that could be affected by your turning movement. Cops often times don’t know this provision in the code and think that you must always use your turn signal when changing lanes or turning. Police who use this excuse to pull over DUI drivers often neglect to mention in their DUI report that there was another vehicle that could have been affected by that vehicle’s turning movement.
Our firm recently handled a case where a Police Sergeant with over 20 years of experience on the force pulled over our client for VC 22107. At the motion to suppress, the Officer testified that he observed our client’s car side by side and to the left of another vehicle when our client made a “sharp turn” to the left without using his signal and the officer pulled him over for an alleged violation of VC 22107. The officer contacted our client who admitted that he’d had too much to drink and he was arrested for DUI. We argued to the judge that the vehicle to the right of our client’s vehicle could NOT have been affected by our client’s left turn. The judge agreed and granted our motion and the case was dismissed.
For the record, we are not saying that you should change lanes or make turns without using your signal and are certainly not condoning driving under the influence. What we are saying is that if you are cited for a DUI, you should hire an experienced and knowledgeable law firm like Wallin & Klarich to handle your case to give you the best chance of a favorable outcome.