Atlanta Criminal Defense Attorney
Call Today 404.907.2527

It's Not Always Illegal to Turn Without Signaling

It's NOT always illegal to change lanes or turn without signaling in Georgia:

I recently saw a defense attorney correctly argue that the drugs found in his client's car after a traffic stop should be suppressed because the officer was not justified in pulling his client over for failing to use his turn signal. The client made a left turn from a "turn only" lane at a green light, with no other vehicles around,... but without using his turn signal.

Although the Judge determined there was probable cause for the stop on other grounds, he added "I'm not aware that you don't have to use your signal when you're turning and you didn't cite any law for me to look at."

While the defense counsel did fail to cite any caselaw, or even the statute, the Court, nonetheless, was incorrect.

O.C.G.A 40-6-123(b) states that "A signal of intention to turn right or left or change lanes WHEN REQUIRED shall be given continuously for a time sufficient to alert the driver of a vehicle......"

The Georgia Court of Appeals has held that the intention of the legislature was that no turn signal be required as long as a lane change can be made with 'reasonable safety'. Otherwise, the use of the phrase "when required" would be rendered meaningless. (Bowers v. State, Ga. App. 886 (1996))

Although failing to utilize a turn signal does not automatically provide a basis for stopping a motorist [Clark v. State, 208 Ga.App. 896, 897-899 (1993)] an officer may pull over a motorist for failing to signal when traffic conditions require the use of such signal [Turner v. State, 265 Ga.App. 40, 41-42 (2004)].

Taking that one step further, you are not required to signal if there are no other moving vehicles in the vicinity. [State v. Goodman 220 Ga.App. 169 (1996)], [see also Semich v. State 234 Ga. App. 89 (1998)]

While it is still the best, and safesty, policy to use your turn signal any time you are changing lanes or turning, it is not always illegal to fail to do so in Georgia.

Most officers don't know this, but now you do.