Understanding Improper Lane Use in Louisiana
Imagine you’re driving through Livingston or Ascension, LA and you see flashing lights behind you. This is the last thing anyone ever wants to see. The officer tells you that you made an improper lane change.
Do you even know what that means? How much will the ticket cost? At the time, you probably won’t even think about the insurance consequences.
Unsafe lane change tickets are, in fact, moving violations. You get a ticket, points, and increased insurance rates based on your company’s policy. Keep reading to learn about the state traffic laws before driving in Louisiana.
First Steps to Take If You Get Pulled Over
When you see flashing lights behind you, don’t panic. To ensure the safety of all parties involved, pull to a safe location as soon as possible. Remember, sometimes the police pull drivers over to alert them to a problem with their vehicle.
Once stopped, turn off your car and place the keys in view of the officer. Roll down your window and get your license, registration, and proof of insurance ready. If it’s nighttime, turn on your inside lights.
Don’t get out of your car unless instructed to by the traffic officer. Remain in your seat with your seatbelt on and your hands in full view. All these actions show the officer that you’re cooperative and nonthreatening.
What Is the Louisiana Improper Lane Change Law?
There are several parts to the improper lane change law. They address different situations that occur while driving on a laned road.
Yield to Authorized Emergency Vehicles
When authorized emergency vehicles approach with sirens or flashing lights, yield to them. You should move to the right side of the road after checking for obstacles and signaling. Once you’re in place and clear of intersections, stop until they pass.
Yield to Vehicles with Lawful Visual Signals
At times you may see a vehicle with flashing lights parked on or near the laned road. If you’re on a road with two or more lanes moving in the same direction, yield the right-of-way.
Do this by moving to a lane that’s not next to the vehicle if possible. Sometimes you can’t change lanes due to traffic or other conditions.
In this case, slow down and pass carefully. Do the same if you’re driving on a two-lane road.
Avoid Excessive Lane Changes
The Louisiana law states that you should try to stay in one lane as much as possible. Make sure to check for other vehicles or obstacles and engage your turn signal before moving.
In some areas, signs direct slow-moving traffic to use a specific lane. The signs may also indicate which lane to use when traveling in a certain direction. You must obey these signs.
Stay to the Right Side of the Road
The law directs drivers to use the right half of the road as much as possible. You may pass vehicles driving in the right lane using the described safe lane change procedure. Other exceptions include when the right lane is closed or you’re driving on a one-way road.
Proper Use of the Left Lane
No vehicle is to drive in the left-hand lane unless the following conditions apply. You can use it to make a left exit, pass another vehicle, or in heavy traffic. Unless you’re preparing to turn left, you shouldn’t impede other vehicles’ progress behind you.
Never drive slower in the left-hand lane of a multilane highway than the rest of the lanes. Slower drivers must move to the right-hand lane.
No one may drive in the left-hand lane to prohibit, block, or impede the traffic behind them. If you don’t move to the right to allow cars to pass, you’re guilty of improper lane usage.
Minimum Speed Allowance
Stay in the right lane if driving slower than ten miles per hour below the posted maximum speed limit. Be sure to stay as close to the curb or shoulder as possible.
If you’re driving in Louisiana during hurricane season, you may be in contraflow traffic. In this case, the authorities reverse the traffic flow so that all lanes travel away from the coast. Always follow the posted signs and directions to ensure safe travel.
How Much is the Traffic Fine for Improper Lane Usage?
If you violate Louisiana driving laws related to improper lane usage under La. R.S. 32:79, you’ll be subject to a fine. Remember that you may also have an increase in your car insurance after getting a ticket. Improper Lane Use is when the driver doesn’t stay in his lane of traffic, such as driving on the painted lines.
Can You Fight an Improper Lane Change Ticket?
In the event of a car accident, the police officer takes statements from those involved. They also may record witness accounts of what happened. Depending on their findings, they may give a ticket for an improper lane change.
When the police give a ticket for improper lane usage, it’s a subjective decision. It relies on what they saw.
You have the right to object to this ticket and request a dismissal. It’s important to have an attorney at your side who understands the court procedures and the law.
Challenging the credibility of the witness is one stance you may take. You might also question if the witness had a clear view or if they have proof to support their claim.
Do You Need Help with a Legal Matter?
If you’ve received a ticket for an Improper Lane change or other violation, consult a lawyer. Carl Barkemeyer has served as an attorney in Baton Rouge for 18 years. He’s defended thousands of clients charged with criminal offenses.
In fact, Mr. Barkemeyer wrote the book, “How to Defend Drug Charges in Louisiana”. His goal is to get the best outcome for every client.
Our office charges a flat fee so you don’t have any surprises. Contact our office anytime if you need legal help.