Q&A - U Turn Ticket

Q&A ImageGot a ticket for an alleged illegal u-turn at an intersection. Was fined $167 for allegedly violating MVA 168(b)(iv). As outlined in the MVA, my alleged violation is defined as "at an intersection where a traffic control signal has been erected"

However, at the time of the alleged offense, 2 things:

1) Because of construction/detours taking place in the area, the traffic lights were not operational. Instead, traffic authority (or firefighters, not sure since they were in bright yellow) was directing traffic.

2) I made the alleged u-turn NOT at the line, but about 3-4 car lengths away from the stop line. I did not have to reverse, no traffic was blocked in any way, and it was not on a curve or hill (straight road).

I plan to dispute this case as I don't believe I am guilty of the offense as recorded on the ticket that I was given. But obviously I would like a second opinion so I am not wasting time and money (mine and the Crown's/taxpayer's) in pursuing a trial.

If you could let me know, that would be great. Thanks



Reverse turn

168 Except as provided by the bylaws of a municipality or the laws of a treaty first nation, a driver must not turn a vehicle so as to proceed in the opposite direction

(a) unless the driver can do so without interfering with other traffic, or,

(b) when he or she is driving

(i) on a curve,

(ii) on an approach to or near the crest of a grade where the vehicle cannot be seen by the driver of another vehicle approaching from either direction within 150 m,

(iii) at a place where a sign prohibits making a U-turn,

(iv) at an intersection where a traffic control signal has been erected, or

(v) in a business district, except at an intersection where no traffic control signal has been erected.

Because your ticket says 168(b)(iv), you only have to worry about the parts of the section that I have made bold above. Now you need to consider:

  • Is there a bylaw or treaty law in effect that allows you to make a U-turn where you did
  • Did the flag person direct you to make a U-turn
  • Did the construction signs direct you to make a U-turn
  • Were you driving
  • Were you at an intersection
  • Did the intersection have a traffic control signal erected

From the details that you provided, I gather that you are hoping to make two points: that because the traffic control signal was not operating, it was not a traffic control signal and that although you were very close to it, you were not at an intersection. The first will depend entirely on the justice that hears your case. The second very likely leaves some leeway. It doesn't say in the intersection, so being outside of it can still be considered as being at the intersection. How close is close? That will all depend on what you can convince the justice "at" means.

Submitted by E-mail

Do you think I should hire myself a lawyer to pursue this? I believe I would have a hard time convincing the JP that the traffic lights were not operating at the time of the alleged offense by myself, and I am not aware of where I could possibly locate data (this happened in Surrey) to corroborate my claim.

Sorry about all of the questions! You are probably quite busy and I don't wish to bother you, however if I am proven guilty of this offense I could possibly lose my license (N Driver) and I obviously wouldn't want that to happen.


Don't worry, if I didn't want to take the time to answer questions, I would not have made it easy for you to ask them!

You could take advantage of lawyer referral through the Canadian Bar Association as it would be much less expensive than hiring a lawyer to represent you. I would be very surprised if you could do so for less than $500. Using lawyer referral would give you a legal opinion of what your chances of success with a dispute might be.

You would not have to locate data, you would simply have to testify that the signals were not in operation. A letter from the City of Surrey public works to that effect might be some extra help.

Additional questions

Pardon me for reviwing an old thread, but I've had a couple of questions regarding this exact topic:

DriveSmartBC, do you think a 168(b)(iv) would be an applicable charge for a u-turn at an intersection of Chesterfield Place and Carrie Cates Court in North Vancouver? There are no traffic control signals at the intersection - just a one-way stop sign, but there is a rail crossing near-by. So I'm thinking that that specific intersection would OK for u-turns.

CompetentDriving, do you know if there is a by-law in NV dealing with u-turns? I've checked and I couldn't find one, but you probably know best.


My Answer

Interesting! A block and a half from ICBC's head office I see...

Reverse turn

168 Except as provided by the bylaws of a municipality or the laws of a treaty first nation, a driver must not turn a vehicle so as to proceed in the opposite direction

(b) when he or she is driving

(iv) at an intersection where a traffic control signal has been erected, or

"traffic control signal" means a traffic control device, whether manually, electrically or mechanically operated, by which traffic is directed to stop and to proceed.

I suspect that most of us would not consider the railroad crossing signals in our deliberations, but they clearly fall into the definition of traffic control signal. So, yes, I think that the section you mention would be appropriate.

Yes, very interesting!

As our Outrageous friend could no doubt attest, a lot of U-Turning goes on there, on each side of the tracks; some looooooong trains trundle through that crossing, and frustrated drivers often try to head back from whence they came in order to use the Rogers or Lonsdale access instead.


DriveSmartBC, certainly can be interpreted that way by the letter of the law - after-all the traffic control signal is technically adjacent to that intersection (in a dictionary definition of adjacent, sort of like Madagascar is adjacent to continental Africa, but on a different contextual scale, which is not defined by the dictionary ;) ). Would you say it applies at all times or only when the traffic control signal is active, i.e. flashing?

In the spirit of the law, as per my interpretation, the 168(b)(iv) seems to be more related to whether the intersection is immediately controlled by a traffic control signal. And the perceived justification for that is that drivers approaching a green light are much more relaxed about their ability to proceed forward unobstructed as opposed to a Stop Sign controlled intersection.

Due to the express-pass-through expectation that a light controlled intersections automatically creates in the minds of the drivers using them when the light is green, it would make sense to bar u-turns at intersections that are controlled by lights.

In this case the intersection is clearly not controlled by a traffic control signal - it is a one-way-stop-sign intersection. The rail crossing is immediately near the intersection but is stand-alone. Have you ever seen an intersection out-side of this case or similar that is controlled by both a Stop Sign and a Traffic Light (that isn't a rail crossing) simultaneously?

No - that would cause serious confusion, and the confusion on the roads is what causes accidents and there all sorts of rules, signs and devices put in-place to aid drivers in alleviating confusion.

In the alternative, if the traffic control signal is inactive, turned-off, blanketed-out - would that not mean that the drivers should default to some sort of an all-way stop procedure at such intersection that would ordinarily be controlled by a traffic signal? Would that not suspend the 168(b)(iv)? You seem to allude in your answer to OP that a traffic control signal being inactive might be a valid defense.

CompetentDriving, this isn't related to trains passing through - just the opposite - when no train is present and the traffic control signal is inactive.

I'd still like to know if you know whether NV has a u-turn by-law?


If you look at where green/yellow/red traffic control signals are planted in the earth, how are they different from these rail crossing signals? They do control the use of the intersection, just not on a continual basis as the other traffic signals do.

Another consideration, but not under the section you mention, is the prohibition against making U turns in business districts. This appears to be a business district.

It would appear that the City of North Vancouver has not chosen to regulate U turns in the Street and Traffic Bylaw. That would mean that the Motor Vehicle Act would be used exclusively for violations.


I disagree!

The green/yellow/red traffic control signals planted at any intersection are different from the rail crossing at this intersection in their immediate adjacency/symmetry and design.

In my view, the rail crossing signal controls, from time-to-time, access to the street that is flowing into the intersection, and is not related to the intersection in the same way that a green/yellow/red traffic control signal erected at the intersection would.

A driver that is coming from the sea-bus loop driving on Chesterfield Place seeing a red signal from a train crossing across the street would not be required to come to a complete stop before proceeding to make a right turn onto the Carrie Cates Court - as opposed to being faced with a red light erected at the intersection - where a complete stop would have been required before proceeding with a right turn maneuver, and alternatively would also be allowed to turn left into the drive-way, despite the rail crossing signal being red (with-out having to wait for the red light to go off). Correct?

Well, There You Go...

...now we need a JP to rule on it in traffic court. :-)

Here come da judge!

Well not really, it's just that IMHO the only traffic control device at that intersection is a Stop Sign.

The railroad tracks, with their accompanying lights and barriers and stuff are adjacent to the intersection, which is quite different.


Date on St. Valentines :)

North Vancouver's court seems to be relatively expedient, they have set up a date with me on the international day of Love!

Haven't seen the North Vancouver courts yet, looking forward to it :)

As I'm batting down hatches and ticking off mental check-marks:

DriveSmartBC, in-regards to your business district comment:

"Another consideration, but not under the section you mention, is the prohibition against making U turns in business districts. This appears to be a business district."

The MVA's 168 states: "(v) in a business district, except at an intersection where no traffic control signal has been erected."

Thus it is the same argument - traffic control signal.

I'm going to position this as an issue of interpretation and ask JP to rule whether the train crossing qualifies as a "traffic control signal erected at intersection" or if it is stand-alone, separate and not related for the particular intersection. I will rely on equitable enforcement and will argue that no driver coming from the opposite way - from the Sea-bus loop - when faced with the rail-crossing signal being active would expect:

a) to be waiting for the red light to stop blinking to make a left turn at that intersection into the alley and

b) to have to come to a complete stop when making a right turn from the same position.

Both of these would be a defacto lawful behavior expectation had a bona-fide traffic control signal been erected at this intersection.

As well I'll mention that I've since found a better way to drop-off my co-workers - there is a tiny "passenger loading" patch on Carrie Cates Court just past the underground garage gate which I now park at for passenger unloading, and that I understand that everyone on the road has a duty of care to eachother and I'll concede that when faced with several choices, a u-turn should be considered last due to it's complexity and hazard potential, even if it is lawful.

Will keep you posted :)

Worth keeping in mind?

It's possible maybe that the police officer would mention that you crossed a double solid yellow line to execute your Reverse Turn (as though it's relevant, which it isn't).

So keep a bookmark on Section 156, just in case.

Best of luck, would love to attend but I'm working in Burnaby on Tuesday.

Court Appearance Update

Had my hearing today, further in my own words, which will undoubtedly put the entire situation in doubt due to the undue eloquence, and the unfettered arrogance, as with my previous such account but none-the-less and with-out further adieu:

The issuing constable appeared before me prior to the proceedings in a crowded hall of the aging North Vancouver Court today, wondering whether I was seeking a reduction in pay or if I wanted to ask for the additional time to pay due to my strained finances. Having been met with a blank stare, which may have appeared to the constable as if the preceding question had not been properly registered in my clouded brain, the constable clarified whether I was there to plead guilty or, if like some people, I insisted on having my day in court.

I had politely informed the constable in a candid manner that unless he would cancel my ticket right now, we were going to trial; at which point the crowd that has been sheepishly whispering and rustling with newspapers, including those who had been engaging in their parallel conversations with their accusers had fallen silent with all ears and some eyes pointed to us. The officer chuckled at my audacity, and taking a second look at my unyielding eyes and a composed Mona-Lisa-esque smile inquired where I had not made a u-turn at an intersection.

I assured the officer that I had indeed completed the described maneuver, but it was certainly not unlawful, and does not actually fall under the purview of 168 (b)(iv) - handing him a print-out of the section 168 - because the law requires a traffic control signal to have been erected at the intersection for the u-turn to be proscribed against. The officer pounced with the counter - noting that there is a traffic control signal device there - the stop sign! I objected to the officer by saying that a stop sign does not equal a traffic control signal, as defined in the Motor Vehicle Act - handing him the section 119 print-out definition of a traffic control signal.

The officer paused for a couple of minutes, I assume to think of all the unlawful tickets handed out to the poor saps in circumstances just like mine, with the pause dawning too uncomfortably long for everyone involved his chain of thought was (un)duly interrupted by my tongue-in-cheek offer to ask the JJP to rule whether a stop sign is separate as defined in the MVA or if it falls under the definition of a traffic control signal. The officer proclaimed “you win - I am cancelling your ticket” (voice on the side-line suggested, jokingly with a poorly-concealed excitement, that the officer should cancel their ticket next), and after a heart-felt handshake the officer informed me that I needed to stay for the roll-call and for the disposition, or be deemed guilty in-absentia.

After the roll-call was finished, and a few easy-business articles from an unrelated constable were dealt with, I had to stand in-front of the Justice, bowing politely as I cross the imaginary bar to approach the bench, and to state my name clearly for the record. The officer moved for the disposition, the Justice agreed and told me that I am free to go; I had thanked the Justice and light-footedly waltzed out of the old brown room, bowing politely as I backed-out through the imaginary bar, and off I went.

Unfortunately the rail crossing did not come up at all, so no ruling one way or another, sorry to disappoint, I was pretty happy to take what I was given. Maybe next time.

Your eloquence is admirable!

That was a fun read. You fought the law, and ... hey, how about that?

Thanks for taking the time to update us. Y'know, it's always easy to criticize the cops, but maybe unreasonable to expect each and every one of them to have the entire Motor Vehicle Act and Regulations committed to memory; including, of course, Definitions. Probably, when the dude in blue saw you do whut you did, he (or she) believed it wuz wrong. And once you flip on those red and blues, you gotta justify it.

The problem with some cops is, they're convinced of their own righteousness all the time in everything they do and aren't open to reason or explanation; their minds are closed. Only when they take a case to court and the judge explains what's what do they see the light, and it's unfortunate that things have to go that far.

Maybe we should have a 'People's Traffic Court!'


Interesting.I stopped behind  a driver at a red light who waved at his friends on the crosswalk on Ryan  Road heading to Courtenay , beside Home Depot. Red light but he read the amber/red the other way and made a  u turn and went the opposite way on Ryan without missinig a beat, honking at his buddies .Illegal yes, but he sure saved some time.Apparently saving time on BC roads is encouraged by the present BC government.It is expensive  in tems in terms of lives lost, injuries and ICBC rates-rising 10% over 2 years..

I'm wondering -who cares?

Google Ads