On Wednesday, I was driving around Minocqua/Woodruff area looking for a bowling alley. Linda’s car has OnStar, so we asked for the nearest bowling alley and received directions to the Woodruff Lanes. I began driving according to the directions that OnStar gave us, when suddenly, I realized we had passed the turn required. So at the next intersection, I pulled into the left-turn lane and made a U-turn to try again.
I got to where the road should have been and noticed no road, so I pulled into a parking lot. Behind me were flashing lights. I pulled over in the parking lot. So did the state trooper car.
Well, the trooper, Officer Bedish, immediately explained that “it’s illegal to make a U-turn at a controlled intersection.” He asked for my license and asked me to confirm that everything on there was current. I didn’t tell him that I don’t weight 150 pounds anymore; other than that, everything is indeed current.
After about ten minutes, he came back to the window and gave me my license and a sheet of paper. He explained: “This is a copy of your traffic warning.”
Violation: 346.33(1)(a): Unlawful U/Y Turn – Control.Intersection
This shocked me. I was certain that in Texas, no such law existed. In fact, it seemed to me that I had seen “No U-Turn” signs often enough to know that when it wasn’t allowed, a sign would be posted. I consulted with others from other states, and all agreed that such a law seemed ridiculous.
So I got online and did some research. Sure enough, it is illegal to make a U-turn at an intersection controlled by light or officer in the state of Wisconsin. But is this true in other states? I decided to check it out, and after consulting the traffic laws of all fifty states, here’s what I’ve found:
- An overwhelming 47 states allow U-turns at traffic lights, except when otherwise signed.
- Only three states declare this illegal: Wisconsin, Missouri, and Oregon, although Oregon’s statutes allow such turns when otherwise signed. [There is a sign that allows a U-turn.]
- In Virginia towns, cities, and business districts of counties, it is illegal to make a U-turn at any place except an intersection.
- U-turns are so common in Texas that the U-turn lane found under freeways before the traffic light is called the “Texas turnaround” even when it’s found in other states.
Clearly, Wisconsin is ridiculous. Not allowing U-turns at intersections, when nearly every other state does (and when Virginia doesn’t allow an alternative!) is ludicrous. Nonetheless, I now have a traffic warning. Thank you, Wisconsin.