The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday that anyone making a left-hand turn onto a road with two lanes in each direction may legally chose to enter either of the two lanes. The appellate court got involved after Kevin Birkland chose to appeal his DWI license revocation after the district court held the arresting officer had a permissible basis to stop his motor vehicle.
The officer testified at the license revocation hearing that she stopped her squad car behind Birkland’s vehicle in the southbound left-tum-only lane on the comer of Christmas Lake Road and Highway 7 in Shorewood. As the light changed, the officer observed Birkland’s vehicle turn left into the outermost lane of eastbound Highway 7, a four-lane roadway with two eastbound lanes of travel. The officer initiated a traffic stop, approached Birkland’s vehicle, and told Birkland that she stopped his vehicle because he turned into the far right lane of Highway 7.
The appellate court pointed out that while the statute requires the driver to complete the turn to the right of the centerline separating the opposite directions of traffic, the statute is silent as to which of the two lanes the driver must enter. Since appellate courts do not add terms or meaning to unambiguous statutes, the court reversed the district court and found that Mr. Birkland had every right to make his left.
The Minnesota Department of Motor Vehicles may have to redo its “Driver Manual” as it claims a person making a left hand turn must turn into the left-innermost lane of the highway. The Court of Appeals has now clarified that the manual is incorrect.
For a further discussion of this case, check out my DWI CASE OF THE WEEK BLOG.
If you or a loved one have been arrested for a Minnesota DWI or are facing the forfeiture of your vehicle, contact Minnesota DWI Lawyer, F. T. Sessoms today at (612) 344-1505 today!