“U-turn” Means You Turned & Went the Other Way – State v. Smith

[7/30/09 – 11:20 pm] Today’s Appellate Division decision in State v. Smith construes the provisions of NJSA 39:4-125, the U-turn statute. The Court ruled that the statute does not require that the motorist literally make a 180 degree turn. Instead, the statute broadly prohibits any type of attempt to turn a vehicle around and proceed in the opposite direction in an area where a “no U-turn” sign has been conspicuously posed.

The Defendant in Smith was driving down a roadway. He made a left-hand turn into a private driveway, remained there for a few moments, backed out and drove off in the opposite direction. This conduct, according to the Appellate Division, constituted a violation of NJSA 39:4-125.

This opinion contains important discussions on numerous other collateral issues, including the appointment of counsel on minor traffic tickets, the trial of a matter following a promise by the judge to dismiss the complaint if the officer does not show up for court, an analysis of whether 39:4-125 only applies to state highways and how the State may supplement the record as part of a municipal appeal.

Download a copy of State v. Smith.

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