Most people seem to believe that a U Turn is illegal by default. It is not a bad assumption, as a U Turn should be done with great care given the sensitivity involved in completely changing driving directions. While each state or jurisdiction may have their own rules on U Turns, Kansas makes its rule on U Turns in KSA 8-1546.
This staute treats U Turns like most states desire to treat U Turns. They are generally legal by default, unless it is posted that they are not allowed or there are certain dangerous factors that exist, such as near or on a curve. As also stated in this statute, however, the legislature does note the sensitivity and care that should be involved with such a turn as the law states that a U Turn must be done safely and only if it would not interfere with other traffic.
For prosecutors, this seems to set up another law enforcement discretionary law. Who determines if the U Turn was done safely? Many prosecutors prefer strict liability laws rather than discretionary ones as it eliminates the need to argue on the type of care used or lack thereof.
For the Defense, the same questions above would apply. Was the turn done with care and did it actually interfere with traffic? While most people might think the discretionary laws are the ones defense counsel prefers, an argument could be made that in the strict liability laws, there is no potential confluict with your client on strategy or the weight of certain evidence.
We will continue to examine the debate of traffic discretionary versus strict liability laws in many statutes to come. Until next time, drive safe!