Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ithaca Lawyer Defends New York VTL 1163 Unsafe Lane Change and the Rules of the Road

Thank G-d we are not in
This looks complicated

Some days the large majority of my time is spent on the phone, and in front of my computer. Phone calls with questions, one after the other, I try to explain the law, it's application, and make sense of things. Traffic violations are a part of my practice. They are a natural and lateral segue from my DWI cases, after all the D stands for Driving. 

Have to Lane Change with Safety 

A recent email and then call had a person who was charged with VTL 1163. In it's various sub-sections New York VTL 1163 deals with lane changing. When can you change lanes? Can you change lanes safely? When did you use your turn signal to indicate a lane change?

Number One Road Rule: Safety First

He had gotten into an accident, and he was the ONE charged with the violation. He wanted to fight it, the charge of 1163 that is. He wanted my legal advice. Well his first defense was that the cop had not witnessed the accident. This can be a good thing, but in this case the damage to the cars and the statements taken from both parties (he and the other driver) were consistent with ONE thing: 
an Improper Lane Change on his part.

The Rule of Road from VTL 1163

Cars that are already in a lane of traffic (travel) have RIGHT of Way. Cars going straight and in a lane have priority over cars coming over and in. This based upon the rule of the road that you do not have to yield to cars enter to your lane of travel. Quite the opposite, cars entering a lane of travel must wait till it is safe to do so. They are changing their lane, the changer must wait and respect the changee (one already there).

Under VTL 1163: And I para phrase, You can't go from a straight (direction) course of travel UNLESS the turn (lane change) can be made (done/performed) with reasonable safety. 

So we didn't have a great defense to the outright charge. What was left was that I might have been able to perhaps get a reduction of the charge to something less harmful to his insurance. He left the call uninterested in his reality, not a great situation but one that could have been at the very least mitigated (lessened). 

Always consult with an attorney about any criminal or non-criminal charges you have pending to discuss your options and/or defenses.

Originally, born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. My father was a NYS corrections officer, and my mother a waitress. I now live in Ithaca, NY with my wife (of 25 years), and four kids. I have a B.S. in Human Biology, Doctorates in Law and Chiropractic, and a Post Graduate in Acupuncture. I practiced as a Chiropractic Physician in Florida from 1986 to 1995. I graduated law school in 1997, and went on to practice trial law in FL, NY, NJ, and PA. I love practicing criminal defense and injury law within the Finger Lakes Region of New York State.

Over 90% of the cases that I take on are New York DWI defense cases. I am certified as a breath tester by the Department of Transportation, the guidelines of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). I am certified in Field Sobriety Tests, and an active member of the National College of DUI Defense (NCDD). My online materials include over 450 blog posts, dozens of articles, and over 440 informative videos on my youtube channel.

I have co-authored Strategies for Defending DWI Cases in New York, in both 2011 and 2013. These are West Thomson legal manuals on New York State DWI defense, and focus on the best practices for other lawyers handling a New York DWI case. Included in Strategies for Defending DWI Cases in New York are materials I provide clients, such as my fee agreement and ways to avoid misdemeanor probation. I was selected by Super Lawyers as a Upstate New York 2013 Rising Star in DWI/DUI Defense based on my experience, contributions, and professional standing.