Failure to Signal in New York – VTL 1163(a) and 1163(b)

Author: Adam H. Rosenblum Esq. | Last Updated:

failure to turn signal

The turn signal is one of the first anti-crash devices to appear in automobiles. Failing to use a turn signal results in more than 2 million accidents nationwide. In addition, it is one of the more commonly issued traffic tickets in New York State. 

What Are the Penalties for Failing to Signal In New York?

Fine: Failure to signal a lane change or turn can result in a fine of up to $150. A second offense within 18 months raises the maximum fine to $300. A third offense within 18 months can mean a fine of up to $450. 

Points: Failure to signal, whether for a lane change or turn, is a 2-point offense in New York. Subsequent tickets within 18 months will add 2 points each. A driver who reaches 6 points or more on his/her license can be required to pay a DRA (see below). 

Surcharge: A conviction for failure to signal in New York obligates a driver to pay a mandatory surcharge of $88 or $93, depending on where the violation occurred. This is on top of the fine. 

Driver Responsibility Assessment (DRA) fee: A driver who accrues 6 points or more on his/her license must pay a Driver Responsibility Assessment fee. A DRA is separate from the fine and surcharge and is paid directly to the DMV. It costs $300 for the first 6 points and $75 for each point thereafter. 

Auto insurance increase: Forgetting to use one’s turn signal may seem like a minor oversight, but given the number of auto accidents associated with the offense, insurance companies may not see it that way. There’s no data specific to failing to signal, but in general, a conviction for a traffic ticket can raise rates by anywhere from 5% to 20%, depending on the driver and the situation. 

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What Is New York’s Failure to Signal Violation?

Seeing how not properly using a turn signal can lead to accidents on the road, New York police officers have been vigilantly looking for drivers failing to use their turn signal. Article 28 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law has about eighteen different laws for turning and using signals in different situations. Specifically, VTL 1163(a) and VTL 1163(b) covers improper or unsafe turns or lane changes without using a signal. With the amount of improper or missed signals on the road, there are a few key driving tips to remember to avoid traffic infractions and more importantly traffic accidents:

  • Right or left turns and lane changes require a signal at least 100 feet before the turn is made.
  • Check mirrors and blind spots before making a turn.
  • Avoid any driver distractions such as cell phones, loud radio, eating or putting on makeup.
  • Keep a safe distance from other vehicles that may brake immediately.

Failing to signal a lane change or turn can result in serious fines and penalties. It’s important that a driver call an experienced traffic attorney to see what options are available to fight the charge. A person is not required to plead guilty on any ticket. Depending on the circumstances, in some jurisdictions, like New York City, failure to use a turn signal or an unsafe lane change can lead to being charged with reckless driving which is a crime and carries 5 points, a fine, and potentially jail time.

Defenses to Failure to Signal Tickets

Failure to signal is a difficult ticket for a person to beat on their own. There are several strategies that will not help a driver beat a failure to signal charge:

  • Insisting one did signal. If the question of whether or not one used a signal adequately before a turn or lane change boils down to a “he said, she said” scenario between the officer and the driver, the officer will always win.  
  • Saying there was no one on the road. A driver is required to use a directional even if the roads are seemingly clear of other drivers. 
  • Claiming the directional signal wasn’t working. A non-working signal light is an offense itself and does not alter a driver’s liability to signal during a lane change or before entering a turn. 

There are situations in which a driver may be able to beat a ticket for failure to signal. For example, a person ticketed for signaling less than 100 feet before a turn can take photographs of the street where the offense occurred and then ask the officer to indicate which landmark the vehicle had passed before signaling. If the officer doesn’t remember, contradicts something written on the ticket, or indicates a landmark that is more than 100 feet before the turn, then the judge would have grounds to acquit the driver.

The above strategy won’t apply to most cases. In fact, depending on the facts of the case, a better solution may be to negotiate with a prosecutor to reduce the charge to a lesser offense. Failure to signal is already a low-point offense, but a driver who can get the ticket reduced to a no-point parking ticket can avoid the auto insurance increase associated with most moving violations, as well as eliminate any risk of a point-induced DRA or license suspension

Failure to Signal Tickets and Auto Accidents

Failing to use a turn signal is considered serious by judges and insurance companies alike. If a car accident occurs, the offense may be considered a negligent act. As such, a conviction for failure to signal can allow the injured party to recover money in a civil lawsuit. In such cases, even negotiating the ticket to a lower offense is not enough to avoid personal injury liability—the driver must be found not guilty of the offense by a traffic court judge. This is not something a regular person can do alone; a highly skilled traffic ticket attorney is needed to ensure the best chances of avoiding a conviction.  

Why Hire an Attorney for a Failure to Signal Ticket?

Due to the cut-and-dry nature of a failure to signal ticket, a driver would have a hard time beating or negotiating the ticket on his/her own. That’s why a person should hire an attorney to fight a failure to signal ticket in NY. An attorney will know how to present the facts so as to have the best chance of beating the ticket. If the ticket is related to an auto accident, an attorney can pursue every possible avenue to ensure the ticket is dismissed or the driver is acquitted of the charges. 

Data for NY Failure to Signal Tickets

According to data from the DMV, either New Yorkers are developing bad habits regarding signaling or police are getting extra diligent about enforcing signaling rules. From 2009 to 2018, the proportion of traffic tickets associated with failing to signal rose from 2.4% to 3.3%. It peaked in 2015, at 3.5% of all tickets issued that year, and has ticketed down slightly since. 

Police in Manhattan issued the most traffic tickets in the state in 2018, according to preliminary data. The 32,127 failure to turn tickets were nearly as many as the next three counties combined—Queens (11,994), Nassau (11,900) and Brooklyn (11,399). The Big Apple also boasts having the largest proportion of turn signal tickets; 8.7% of all tickets in the borough were for failing to signal. 

CountyFailure to Signal Tickets NY 2018
MANHATTAN32,127
QUEENS11,994
NASSAU11,900
BROOKLYN11,399
BRONX10,106
SUFFOLK5,945
STATEN ISLAND3,655
WESTCHESTER3,562
ORANGE3,146

 

CountyProportion of Failure to Signal Tickets 2018
MANHATTAN8.7%
BRONX6.0%
QUEENS4.5%
BROOKLYN4.1%
STATEN ISLAND4.0%
ONEIDA3.6%
NASSAU3.2%
ORANGE2.6%
ONONDAGA2.4%

Common Questions About Failing to Signal in New York

  • Can I be ticketed for failing to yield to an emergency vehicle if the shoulder is blocked?

    A driver who makes an effort to pull as far to the right as possible—even if the shoulder is blocked or there is no shoulder—can be seen as complying with the law. However, a driver who makes no effort at all can be ticketed for not yielding to an emergency vehicle.

  • Are there any rules emergency vehicles have to comply with when operating with lights and sirens on?

    Yes. VTL 1144 (b) states that operators of emergency vehicles must “drive with reasonable care for all persons using the highway.”

  • Can I say I didn’t pull over because I was concerned the car behind me would rear-end me?

    This will depend on other facts of the case, including if the driver at least slowed down, attempted to pull to the right, how much warning the driver had before the emergency vehicle passed, and any other relevant circumstances.

Who Should I Contact for a Failure to Use A Turn Signal Ticket in NY?

A failure to signal ticket in New York can result in a $150 fine, $88 or $93 surcharge and 2 points for a first offense. If a driver has a second offense within 18 months the fine jumps to $300, $93 surcharge and another 2 points. A third offense within 18 months will result in a $450 fine, $93 surcharge and another 2 points. If the charge stems from a traffic accident, the ticket can also be used to prove civil liability in a personal injury lawsuit. 

If you or someone you love has been charged with not using a turn signal, you should contact Rosenblum Law today. The traffic defense attorneys at Rosenblum Law have helped many drivers beat traffic tickets and avoid civil liability in traffic accidents. Email us today or call 888-883-5529 for a free consultation.