3-Point Turn Or U-Turn?

Those of us who have been driving long enough know the difference between a U-turn and a three point turn. While a U-Turn mainly consists of a single turn to maneuver the vehicle 180 degree. A 3-Point turn requires complete stops resulting in a turn that resembles a 3-point triangle.  While most of us understand there is a technical difference, legally, it may be hard to distinguish the two.

A interesting case was recently covered by the Toronto Star. Brampton resident Michael Robinson in September 2015 was on his way to pick up his wife from her job at Wal-Mart. He turned left into a driveway and proceeded to perform a standard 3-Point turn. Robinson was pulled over by a Peel Region police officer for disobeying a “No U-Turn” sign and given a ticket.

Peel Regional Police said Robinson’s 3-Point turn was considered a U-Turn, even though under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act there is no clear definition of what constitutes a 3-Point turn or a U-Turn. Section 143 of the act refers to a U-turn as a turn “so as to proceed in the opposite direction,” and that was what led to Robinson’s charge.

The Justice of the Peace presiding over Robinson’s case produced a 42 page ruling, which concluded: “A 3-Point turn as a driving maneuver is not defined in the Highway Traffic Act… and as such, a 3-Point turn for the purposes of the Highway Traffic Act is not legally distinct from a U-Turn.” In the end Robinson, lacking the time or the funds to pursue his case further, accepted the fine, but was insistent that the decision was not based on any constitutional law but vague common law practices of favoring breach of ‘intent of the law’.

The safe thing to do for now, unless the law is changed, is when there is a “No U-Turn” sign, consider it a No 3-Point turn sign as well.