Tips, Tricks & Trends

Wa. Supreme Court Rules You Must Use Turn Signals

In a nanny state, happy new year to all crazy ruling Washington state’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled yesterday you must use your turn signals. In cases of lane changing or making a turn you have to use your turn signal or it’s the jail for you. OK, maybe not jail time but at least a hefty fine. 

There have been a number of issues that prompted this. Back in March 2015, a man named David Brown was arrested in Kennewick, Washington, for driving under the influence of alcohol. He was approaching a left turn lane with his left turn signal blinking. Once he was in the lane he turned it off. He still hadn’t turned it on when he made the turn, which was why he was pulled over by state troopers. 

At triple the legal limit Mr. Brown was arrested for DUI

(Original Caption) A new safety direction signal, operated by a flip-switch within easy reach of the driver, is built into the attractive rear monogram of all Buick 1939 cars. Flasher lights indicate the driver’s intention to make a right or left turn. Undated photograph.

He was soon arrested when upon observation it was decided to give a breath test, which showed .26 breath alcohol content according to KOMO News. That is more than triple the legal limit for the state of Washington. 

In court, Brown’s attorney argued that because the initial traffic stop was without cause that the case should be dismissed. A lower court agreed and so the case was dismissed. It was a case of what comes first the chicken or the egg? The court was saying that in spite of him being three times beyond the legal limit for drunkenness the issue was if he should have been stopped at all.

Court of Appeals says a signal wasn’t always needed

When the decision was appealed, the Court of Appeals ruled that a turn signal was required only if public safety was affected. That decision was then appealed to the Washington Supreme Court. 

Use your turn signals | Getty

What’s weird is that the state has always said you need to use blinkers. That if you are planning to make a move right or left you must have an “appropriate signal.” Even if you are in a turn lane where your move is obvious. It helps other drivers know what your intentions are in advance. 

Using a blinker is a lot easier than having to fix your car

Especially when in an intersection where there is a lot of activity and turning happening at the same time it’s critical. Unless you’re driving an absolute beater, wouldn’t you like other drivers to know where you intend to turn to avoid them doing harm to your nice paint?  Or worse? Not to mention what a fender bender-even if it’s not your fault, might do to your insurance premiums? 

So, to the state supreme court, the appeal went. The high court ruled that the law does require a driver “to ensure turns and lane changes are done safely and with an appropriate turn signal.” With this latest ruling, the case will now go back to the lower court in accordance with the high court’s ruling. 

Yeah, none of us like to be told what to do. But like using your seat belts or not eating your boogers, it’s the right thing for you to do. Plus, it’s not a difficult or taxing effort to exert.