I recently had a client stopped for a “wide right turn” here in Phoenix. It was the only basis for the traffic stop and my client did not commit any other driving violations. You may be asking yourself: “How is this legal? I watch people make a ‘wide right turn’ all day, every day at every intersection.” So what’s going on with Arizona law?
Under A.R.S. 28-751(1), a driver intending to make a right-hand turn shall do as follows: “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.”
Seems simple, right?
But what if I told you than in many, many intersections across the State of Arizona, particularly in any older sections of towns, the intersection, itself, does not physically allow a vehicle to turn completely into the right-hand curb lane?
Doesn’t seem fair, does it?
Many of these older intersections weren’t designed to accommodate today’s larger vehicles. Put another way, there are a number of intersections in Arizona where it is a physical impossibility to complete a right turn as the laws mandate – a driver would either (1) “turn wide” into the second lane of travel or (2) the driver’s right-rear tire would have to go up over the curb. Either way, if a law enforcement officer sees it, you’re likely getting pulled over.
It is not surprising then that these “wide right turn” violations are rarely handed out during the daytime hours (I see them much more frequently cited at night, when the DUI patrols are out). It would appear that law enforcement is using this questionable “traffic violation” as an opportunity to contact drivers at a time when there is at least, theoretically, a higher likelihood that the driver may have consumed alcohol.
If you or someone you know has been pulled over based on a “wide right turn,” it is imperative that they speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney before making any decisions about their case.
Be safe out there. The world is a dangerous place.