Improper right turn, aka wide right turn
I suspect we have all made a wide right turn at some point in our lives. But police officers often use the “wide right turn” as a basis to pull a driver over and start hunting for other violations. We usually see the wide right turn as an excuse to pull over a driver to investigate a DUI, even though sober drivers make wide turns all the time. For commercial drivers, this is a popular violation because wide turns cannot be avoided.
Why does this violation target CDL holders?
This isn’t news for CDL holders, but when you are driving a large truck, it is impossible to start from the right-hand curb lane and make a right turn into the right-hand curb lane of the street you are turning onto. If the driver of the truck tried to do this, he would end up driving over the curb and sidewalk, and whatever was on the sidewalk. The driver of a truck inevitably has to either start the turn wide, or finish the turn wide. Nevertheless, many police officers either lack common sense, or more likely, are just looking for an easy ticket to issue. The police do not seem concerned with reality or the fact that such a ticket will cause problems for the professional driver.
Fighting a wide right turn ticket
Fortunately, the police officer who issues the ticket doesn’t get to decide if the driver is responsible or not. A driver can request a civil traffic hearing and let a judge decide. Often, when we present the reality of driving a big truck to a judge, the judge finds the driver not responsible. The important language of the statute (A.R.S. 28-751.1) is this:
Right turns. Both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.
As close as practicable. So if it is simply impossible for a vehicle to turn from and into the right-hand curb lane, you have a defense. A driver just has to show that they were as close to the curb lanes as possible. The statute does not require that the driver be in the curb lanes.
Defensive driving school and wide right turn tickets
An improper right turn is a violation that is eligible for defensive driving school. However, a CDL holder may still wish to challenge this ticket. Defensive driving school will not keep this violation from hitting the commercial driver’s record like it would for a non-commercial driver.