Double Solid Yellow Lines

Double Solid Yellow LineCould you talk about the rule about not crossing a double line when driving? A friend and I were talking about this and she thought there had been an update on this rule, that you were allowed to cross a double line under certain circumstances, though she could not remember what the circumstances were.

The rules regarding double solid yellow lines on British Columbia highways have not changed. They require that a driver remain to the right of them at all times. Technically, this means that as soon as your left side tires stray onto the lines themselves, you have broken those rules. You are not even allowed to cross them in order to avoid an obstruction on the highway as you may with single lines or a combination of single and broken lines.

I have seen many ticket disputes for crossing a double solid line ranging from "I wasn't passing anyone" to "my car wasn't completely over the line." One gentleman even tried to explain that he was avoiding an article on the road by going around it to the left. Had he slowed down and gone around it on the right where there was room to pass by safely, he would have avoided joining all these people who were convicted by the traffic court justice.

There is only one exemption to the requirement to keep right and that is when a driver is entering or leaving a highway. The onus is on the driver making the turn to exercise “a very high degree of care” and to keep a “sharp lookout” when crossing a double solid line.

Reference Links:


Submitted by E-mail

I find this very interesting from the point of view that if there is any obstruction in a traffic lane that is bordered by a double solid line and a single solid line that the vehicle cannot be driven out of the lane. Although I can see the safety aspect of just driving by carelessly it does not allow for vehicles to proceed past the obstruction. Consider some of the highways in B.C. where there is no shoulder and the only way to pass an obstruction (broken down vehicle, fallen rocks on the road, etc.) is to cross the double solid line, each of those vehicles that does so is breaking the law. Traffic could end up backed up for miles (kilometers) until the obstruction is finally removed. The new section 40 of the MVA Regulations requires that a vehicle slow down and move over when approaching 'an official vehicle' displaying flashing red or blue lights. This now becomes a contradiction to the Motor Vehicle Act. I think that there should be a provision to allow crossing the double solid line to avoid a hazard on the road if the vehicle that has to cross the double solid line ascertains first that the move can be made in safety. This could prove to be a very interesting case in a court room.

Crossing Double Solid Lines

An interesting point.  How can one section of the MVA create a regulation that contradicts or creates an infraction against another section of the MVA?  If an official vehicle is far enough into the travelled lane, thereby creating an obstruction, how could traffic pass by without being in contradiction of the MVA?

Crossing double lines

I have gone over the motor vehicle act and have cut and pasted it here. It seems to say that you can cross the double line to avoid an obstruction, see 155 (2).

Highway lines
155 (1) Despite anything in this Part, if a highway is marked with

(a) a solid double line, the driver of a vehicle must drive it to the right of the line only,

(b) a double line consisting of a broken line and a solid line,

(i) the driver of a vehicle proceeding along the highway on the side of the broken line must drive the vehicle to the right of the double line, except when passing an overtaken vehicle, and

(ii) the driver of a vehicle proceeding along the highway on the side of the solid line must drive the vehicle to the right of the double line, except only when finishing the passing of an overtaken vehicle, and

(c) one single line, broken or solid, the driver of a vehicle must drive the vehicle to the right of the line, except only when passing an overtaken vehicle.

(2) Subsection (1) (b) (i) and (c) do not apply if a driver is avoiding an obstruction on the highway and first ascertains that the movement can be made with safety and without affecting the travel of any other vehicle.

It's Tough to Read These Sometimes....

If you look at the two situations spoken about, 155(1)(b) deals with a double line that consists of one broken line and one solid line. 155(1)(c) deals with a single line, either solid or broken. In order to cross the double solid line, the exemption would have to include 155(1)(a) and it does not.

The distinction is between a double line and a double solid line.

This rule is dumb

The broad definition of 'highway' in this case would mean that turning left across the yellow line (single or broken) in a mall parking lot is illegal seeing as a parking lot is part of the highway. There are many parking lots with single or broken yellow lines. Superstore, Brentwood mall, and many others are good examples.

I think most cops will not take into account this definition of a "highway" (most probably aren't even aware of it) and would only ticket you IF you were causing a large impediment in traffic. If you were to turn without obstructing traffic they wouldn't ticket you.

It's Not Only the Police

The courts also use these rules to decide liability after a collision, ticket or no ticket.

good point

You have a point.
But if the judge himself would turn left across a solid yellow or broken yellow within a store parking lot (like the rest of us 99.99% of the drivers), then he has no business using this law against the person. Since nobody is gonna only make right turns (this is the case in some lots if you follow the rules strictly) or going WAY out of their way to follow this rule, getting "WTF you doing?" comments from your passengers, is safe to say the judge does it too. You can't differentiate between doing this in a parking lot, vs doing it from Kingsway into a store parking lot since they are both part of the highway by law.

I hope the judge (or cop, if deciding to give a ticket) is not a hypocrite.

Turning over a double solid line

Regarding entering or leaving the highway over a double solid line, you can legally cross a double solid line to enter a service station or a store parking lot.  Under the Motor Vehicle Act, a service station and a store parking lot are each a single instance of a "highway".  When a driver crosses a double solid line on a street to enter a store parking lot, they are leaving one "highway" and entering another "highway".

From the Motor Vehicle Act:
 - every private place or passageway to which the public is a highway;
 - every road, street, lane or right of way designed or intended for or used by the general public for the passage of vehicles is a highway;
 - if the driver of a vehicle is causing the vehicle to enter or leave a highway and the driver has ascertained that he or she might do so with  safety and does so without unreasonably affecting the travel of another vehicle they may cross a double solid line.

It looks like there may be a misinterpretation that a street and an adjacent service station/parking lot are a single highway, but they distinct instances under the definition given by the Motor Vehicle Act.  Drivers are leaving a highway when they make a left hand turn over a double solid line and therefore meet the requirements of a legal turn under the Act.

It appears that you are correct on this point...

The BC Court of Appeal case of Mills v Seifred deals with a situation exactly as described above. There is no mention that the turn cannot be done, but when done must be done with significant care on the part of the turning driver.

I have amended the article to conform to this.

further to DoubleClutch's 'Turning over a double solid line'

I'd like to revisit the notion of permissable left turns across Double Solid Yellow Lines ...

I've looked at the Motor Vehicle Act [RSBC 1996] CHAPTER 318 - Definitions, Section 1 ''highways'', as well as Part 3, Highway Lines, Section 155, and, Suspension of sections 151 and 155, Section 156 ...

Would it be permissable for a driver to turn left across Double Solid Yellow Lines from a two-lane highway (one lane per direction of travel) into the residential driveway of a detached house, and, in so doing, force traffic behind them to come to a complete halt?

It seems to me the left turning driver in this example may run afoul of the MVA in two different ways:

1). With respect to the definition of a 'highway', does the residential driveway of a detached house meet the criteria in Definitions, Section 1 - "highway":

(c) every private place or passageway to which the public, for the purpose of the parking or servicing of vehicles, has access or is invited,

and, is that even a relevant consideration ... given the example?

2). With respect to

Suspension of sections 151 and 155

156  If the driver of a vehicle is causing the vehicle to enter or leave a highway and the driver has ascertained that he or she might do so with safety and does so without unreasonably affecting the travel of another vehicle, the provisions of sections 151 and 155 are suspended with respect to the driver while the vehicle is entering or leaving the highway.

 ... is Section 155 suspended in the example ... given that traffic behind them is forced to come to a complete halt?

I learned to drive in B.C. in 1972 and I'm near certain that I was instructed that one could not impede traffic behind them when choosing whether to execute a left turn across Double Solid Yellow Lines ... have MVA regulations (with respect to this specific topic) changed over the years?  If so, or, if suspected so, how would one access the (relevant) superceded (historical) MVA regulations?

Thanks for any insights offerred, K_McIntosh

P.S.  one of this article's Reference Links, RoadSense for Drivers, Chapter 3, Page 36 (PDF), has changed in title and online location, it is now called Learn to Drive Smart - (scroll down to) Download (PDF) chapters ... the corresponding Chapter is still 3 and is entitled Signs, signals and road markings.


The line forms here ...

... well, not really, it's just that sometimes I can't think of an appropriate Subject Title.  Please click on the hyperlinks as necessary, I'm not sure if they're always clearly visible or obvious on this forum, the words will appear greenish.

The way that I would read, and interpret, the Act & Regulations is this.

On the one hand, you have lines being painted on the roadway to control traffic flow and movement.  Maybe broken lines, maybe solid lines, maybe white lines, maybe yellow lines.  In the UK and other jurisdictions that follow their protocol (Australia, Hong Kong, South Africa, etc) they paint them all white regardless; here in north america we use both white and yellow (though if you go back half a century or more, you'll find that we used to use a white centreline on a two-way and yellow road edge markings, go figure; sorry but when you have all this trivia in your head you have to let it out from time to time).  And just to confuse things further, the current relevant sections don't actually refer to the colour of the paint to be used, go figure ...

The lines under Section 151 will be painted white; they control the movement of traffic in the same direction.  That's why they're the only lines found on a one-way street, though they may also be found on a multi-lane two-way street.  If they're broken, you can change lanes across them, within the provisions of that section.  If they're solid, you can't - it's now illegal.

The lines under Section 155 will be painted yellow; they control the movement in opposite directions.  That's why they're the only lines found down the centre of a two-lane street.  Broken yellow lines are an indication that passing is probably OK, all other conditions being met, solid yellow lines mean you should think hard about crossing them to make a pass, and double solid yellow lines mean no way, passing here is illegal because it's dangerous (probably due to insufficient sightlines, sometimes due to a collision history from before they painted the double solid line).

For those who think they may be able to cross a solid yellow line to pass those slugs ahead of them, using an opposing flow traffic lane, (i.e. on the Burrard Bridge) they created Section 151(f).  This also means that painting a double solid yellow line down the middle of a multi-lane two-way street is basically a superfluous waste of paint and road width.

But NONE OF THIS has anything to do with getting onto, or off, the highway you're driving on, when you're not at an intersection; and that's why they created Section 156.  The logic is wonderful, somewhat flexible.  If you want to get onto the highway, or off it, and this necessitates crossing one or more white, yellow, solid, double-solid, whatever, lines then go ahead - so long as you don't unreasonably affect the flow of traffic. 


more to the point(s) ...

CompetentDrivingBC  ... thank you for all that info ... especially the last paragraph ... however, I'm still in the dark as to whether my example left turner is "unreasonably affecting the flow of traffic" by forcing all traffic behind them to come to a complete stop ... and wait ... while they try to leave a highway to enter the residential driveway of a detached house ... not a 'highway' per the regs, in my view ...

BTW - what are the chances of getting DriveSafeBC to weigh in on this topic re-boot?

Thank you, K_McIntosh


I can't add more to what CompetentDrivingBC had to say so I remained silent. There is no definition of unreasonably affecting and it depends on the circumstances and what you can convince the justice of in a dispute.

A little follow-up please ... and ... I'll inform the article

One aspect of my 1st post remains unaddressed ...

" ... have MVA regulations (with respect to this specific topic) changed over the years?  If so, or, if suspected so, how would one access the (relevant) superceded (historical) MVA regulations? "

As for 'unreasonably affecting', I will soon have occasion to put this question to the test, and, will, in time, inform the article of the legal outcome ...

  ... the only other loose end ... it seems leaving a 'highway' via a left turn over double solid yellow lines may not be contingent on entering another 'highway' ... and, even if it was, the residential driveway of a detached house may fit the criteria under MVA [RSBC 1996] CHAPTER 318 Definitions, 1 "highway" (c).


Not Much Help

The best that I can offer you are Tables of Legislative Changes for the Motor Vehicle Act. I am unfamiliar with their use or how to research the content of the changes themselves. I have no recall of any changes to this particular legislation during the time that I was actively involved in their enforcement.

Fair enough ...

I'll see what I can make of those Tables of Legislative Changes ... thanks for the link ...

Re: "during the time that I was actively involved in their enforcement " ... if I may ask, back to what point in time might that be?

Based on your obvious dedication to safe driving, your broad body of knowledge on the subject, your career in law enforcement specific to traffic law, and, if you were busy enforcing traffic laws here in B.C. since I started driving in 1972, then, you would know if the regs surrounding my topic have changed or not ... that may largely be good enough for my purposes.

Thanks, K_McIntosh

I would contact ...

... The Queen's Printer, as for years they were the source for the Motor Vehicle Act & Regulations.  So it's possible they would have earlier issues, or know of a library or collection of them that you could peruse.

From my own memory though, Section 156 (that allows entering a highway by crossing solid lines if necessary and regardless of Sections 151 & 158) and Section 155(2) that allows passing on a double-solid yellow when encountering an obstruction on the highway, have been around for at least twenty or thirty years.

Thanks to Mr MkIntosh for the Definition of Highway that I had been looking for and unable to find previously.

Meanwhile, it would be interesting and enlightening to know the circumstances that brought about his query here.

Thank you, you're welcome and it's McIntosh, please

 CDBC ... there is litigation pending, therefore I cannot elaborate on the circumstances ... I believe I've laid out the basic parameters of the situation and this article's title (with help from Google) is what brought my query here ... although, that having been said ... I'm still wondering if one must be entering another 'highway' when leaving a 'highway' (via a left turn across double solid yellow lines), and, if so, if the residential driveway of a detached house can be considered a 'highway' ...


update on my research to BC MVA changes over time to Section 156

Regarding B.C. MVA RSBC 1996 c. 318 Section 156 ('Suspension of Sections 151 and 155'), as I suspected (from my early [upon learning, in 1972] driving career recollections), the language and intent regarding the legality of a left-hand turn across double solid lines on a highway has changed over time, in fact, prior to 1980, you were not allowed to do it if it affected the travel of another vehicle in any way.

Section 156 (Suspension of Sections 151 and 155) was amended by SBC 1980 c. 37 s. 30 & SBC 1987 c. 46 s. 9

Note that the section numbers have changed with each statute revision:


MVA RSBC 1996 c. 318




s. 156

s. 158

s. 147


ie.  in 1980, what is now Section 156 was Section 158 ... and was Section 147 when I learned to drive in 1972.

--> SBC 1980 Chapter 37 Section 30 reads: “Section 158 is amended by striking out “in any way” and substituting “unreasonably”.” 

This is a critical difference and one wonders what the rationale behind such a change was – my next project.


My point with this is that drivers trained to adhere to a certain set of driving rules (laws) at a certain juncture in time would tend to exhibit (and expect from others) driving practices that reflected their understanding of the rules of the road at the time they learned to drive.


If a person was not involved in traffic law legislation, enforcement or court cases involving situations where the specifics of a changed regulation came to light (for them), they could not reasonably be expected to be aware of such a change, hence, I believe, should receive the benefit of the doubt as to what is “unreasonably affecting the travel of another vehicle” (ie. stopping completely on a two-lane street [‘highway’] to execute a left-hand turn into a residential driveway across double solid yellow lines)... especially when the driver of the turning vehicle hails from an identical (or earlier) driver education era.


This notion will be tabled for a B.C. Provincial Court judge’s consideration in pending litigation and I will update this thread as matters progress.



further to DoubleClutch's 'Turning ovr dbl sld line' - concluded

Well ... it's been 3+ years since I've addressed this thread.  The circumstances of my particular 08MAY14 MVA (described generally in one of my earlier posts) were never heard in court ... an out of court modest monetary settlement (and a revised apportionment of blame, 75/25 vs. 100/0) was recently reached with the (ICBC represented) defendant in the matter.

It would have been my strong preference to go the distance (in court) and obtain a legal decision regarding the notion of "unreasonably" (i.e. degree of, based on the circumstances in my case) vs. "in any way", with respect to another driver obstructing traffic (me, and, causing a rear-end collision, me, on a m/c, into them, in a car) by stopping on a two-lane street to turn left across double solid yellow lines into a residential driveway (I'm still not satisfied the latter meets the definition of a 'highway') ... after all ... the municipal street line painters make a definitive break in the dbl sld yellow lines on the through street where a stop sign-controlled street 'T' intersects on the left (both described situations relate to traffic headed in the same direction on the through street) ... where traffic from the through street is permitted make their left turns into the intersecting street ... why introduce a break in the lines if it doesn't matter at all?  One has to wonder why the legislative change was made in 1980 (I was never able to find a documented rationale) from a black & white rule to a very grey one ... where the courts in each case coming before them must now dwell on the individual set of circumstances to determine what is reasonable or not.

Anyways, my only two witnesses to the MVA, who initially said (on scene, to the attending police officer) that the other driver was actually backing out of their driveway across the dbl sld yellow lines into my lane (one witness going so far as to describe an observed column-shift gear change by the other driver from R to D) later both changed their recollection of events to that being the other driver stopping to turn left into their driveway ... at the time, I was sure it was the latter but the witnesses' on-scene statements later left me wondering if this is how the other driver had taken me so effectively by surprise ... an enduring puzzle for me ...

As a footnote, I will say that the ICBC Schedule 7 medical benefits effectively helped me in restoring my ability to walk (and work) again after shattering my L tibial plateau laterally and damaging my R tibial plateau medially (I have nothing but gratitude and praise for all of the provincial health care professionals I encountered along the way) - I was wearing a full-face helmet at the time and would be dead, or, at best, severely facially disfigured, if I had been wearing a partial-coverage style helmet whilst riding my m/c ... an activity I continue to enjoy.


I am almost certain ...

... that at one time, the Motor Vehicle Act actually had a Definition for 'Highway', but it seems to have disappeared now or I'm looking in the wrong section.  From memory, there used to be a definition that it was a roadway accessible for public use, or like that.

But take a look at Part 119 and we still find descriptive terms such as 'through highway' and 'designated use highway' so for sure we still have highways in BC even if we don't know what they are, exactly.  One thing is for sure; the term encompasses a lot more than just a high speed stretch of road (i.e. Sea-to-Sky Highway or Coquihalla Highway).

As an example of my thinking, I would give you Section 186, which is really about Stop Signs and intersection control.  From this, you have to extrapolate that even a quiet residential street, intersected by other quiet residential streets, constitutes a highway.  A through highway, in this case.

As it happens, I frequently have to turn left across a solid yellow line (it could just as well be a double solid yellow line) to access my own driveway.  Sometimes, if there are oncoming vehicles, this necessitates holding up one or two cars behind me for a few seconds.  Would anybody call this 'unreasonable'?  Surely not.  And if I was suddenly confronted with an unending stream of oncoming traffic (hasn't happened in fifteen years, but you never know) then I would cancel my signal and go around the block rather than create anger and frustration behind me; I'm a reasonable guy.

Meanwhile, a few years back, when I was working as an ICBC Driver Examiner, I was occasionally stationed at the Point Grey license office.  Their parking area is accessed from a laneway; take a look on Google Earth, address 4126 MacDonald Street Vancouver V6L 2P1 and you'll get the picture.  It was not uncommon for students accompanied and directed by instructors in Driver Training vehicles to proceed south on MacDonald, then turn left across the solid yellow line, emulating the conclusion of the Road Test route then in use.  Sometimes, they would wait for ages until all visible oncoming traffic had ceased before making the turn, unwilling to take the opportunity of a reasonable gap, and creating a tremendous holdup in the traffic flow.  Complaints were made, not surprisingly, and these ended up with the Vancouver Police Traffic to address and hopefully rectify.

So although as a general rule, the Traffic Cops will turn something of a blind eye to Driver Training vehicles - realizing that we all have to learn somewhere, on real streets and roadways (and highways), they did issue something of an ultimatum on this, warning that if necessary they would issue tickets to Learner Drivers who were unreasonably blocking traffic flow on that road.

Seems reasonable to me!


Single solid yellow line vs. double solid yellow line

Residents along a rural road in Maple Ridge are having trouble with commuters regularly going 20-30+ km over the 50km speed limit. It is a popular road for joggers, cyclists and horse riders. Two horses over the years have been clipped by vehicles, injured and then put down. Wildlife is regularly mowed down. The road is two lanes, with a solid centre line. Only recently, two "No Passing" signs were added along this east/west road, just after 4-way stop intersections about 3 km apart. My question is....why hasn't the centre line been amended to two double lines? The distance between the two "No Passing" signs is quite a distance and I think that people just aren't aware they have been added. Drivers are likely still of the mind they can pass another vehicle. I adhere to the 50 km/hour rule along rural roads. I don't want to have to explain to any little kid why I killed Bambie. I appreciate my neighbourhood for the wildlife. I like to see horses and riders. However, by sticking to the speed limit, I am regularly passed by drivers who get frustrated by my perceived "pokiness". Is it possible to request the centre line be amended to a double line?


The sign is contrary to the line, not a good situation. I suggest a chat with Maple Ridge council if it is a road that is looked after by the municipality and the area office of the Ministry of Transportation if not.

The only line you cannot cross ...

... is a freshly painted one!


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