Changed Lane When Unsafe

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An unsafe lane change is an offense that occurs daily on many highways and roads by drivers. Under these laws, a driver must signal his change of lanes and pass on the left side of the vehicle. It is important to signal when moving to the left lane and when moving back to the right lane. In addition, enough space must be available between each vehicle. Monitoring for traffic coming from the rear is also essential. In addition, the action may not occur in a posted construction zone or in a no passing zone.

Fines And Penalties

As a moving violation, individuals who change lanes when it is unsafe could face significant fines and penalties, especially if it results in an accident. Fines may be as small as $100 or much larger. Should you cause an accident, this could lead to significant repercussions, including your insurance company paying for the damages to the other person's vehicle.

Points And Impact On Driving Record / License

As a moving violation, those who change lanes when it is unsafe are likely to face points added to their license. Generally, this adds two points to your license if you are guilty of the traffic violation.  If you accumulate too many points (eight in most states) within a limited amount of time (usually two years) you may lose your license. You are likely to pay more in car insurance.

State Fines and Penalties

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State Avg. Fines Points Traffic School License Suspension Rate Jail
Alabama No minimum, $500 maximum 2 points. Insurance may be affected depending on total number of points accrued to date. Not required, but traffic school may decrease insurance hike. Two violations in three years results in sixty day suspension. Three violations in three years results in a 120 day suspension. 8 points in a year or 12 points in two years results in a revoked license. Potential for hardship exemption. Goes on record. Points against license held for two years, then revert to zero. No jail time
Alaska $150 2 points. Insurance will likely increase. Not required. A defensive driving course may reduce this amount. Traffic school may only be used once every 12 months. 12 points in a year results in a thirty day suspension, 18 points in two years results in ninty day suspension. Two suspensions in a year results in a year suspension. No hardship exemption No
Arizona $150 2 points. May cause negligible insurance rate increases. Not required, but voluntary attendance will dismiss ticket and avoid being placed on driving record Case Specific Goes on driving record. Point accumulating offenses on driving record for five (5) years
Arkansas $25-$100 3 points. Expect negligent insurance premium increases. Case specific, but potentially required License revocation on case specific basis Violation goes on record. Point accumulating offenses on driving record up to five (5) years
California Up to $150 1 point. Insurance premium may increase. Not required, case specific, but one offense per eighteen months may be masked from public view if completing traffic school License suspension reinstatement automatically requires adminstrative hearing Goes on record. One (1) point offenses remain on record for three (3) years, two (2) point offenses remain on record for seven (7) years
Colorado $10-$300 4 points. Insurance premiums will likely increase. Case specific, but will not dimiss points from record Hearing required to determine on case specific basis, 12 points accumulated equals mandatory suspension Point accumulating offenses on driving record no less than seven (7) years
Connecticut Case Specific 1 point. Insurance premium may increase. May be required by clerk, dismissal of fines or points possible through clerk approved traffic school arrangement Ten (10) points accrued result in suspension, revocation case specific pending hearing Points remain on driver record for two (2) years
Delaware First offense is $25-$115, subsequent offenses within 3 years $50-$230. 2 points. May cause negligible insurance rate increases. Case specific and may be required, may be used to reduce overall point count Accumulation of fourteen (14) points means mandatory suspension for four (4) months Points offenses remain on record at least three (3) years and up to more than five (5) pending offense
DC Up to $150 for non-reckless offense 2 points. May cause negligible insurance rate increases. May be required, and can be used as means of reducing point total 10 points accumulated requires 90-day suspension, 12 point accumulation requires revocation needing official reinstatement Points remain on driver's record for two (2) years
Florida Up to $500 3 points. Expect negligent insurance premium increases. May be required, basic driver improvement courses are option for dimissing points Twelve (12) points in one (1) year requires mandatory suspension, revocation is case specific and determined by hearing Offenses resulting in points kept on driving record for seven (7) years
Georgia Up to $1000 3 points. Expect negligent insurance premium increases. Not required, potentially used for one violation reduction every five (5) years Accumulation of fifteen (15) points in two years results in suspension Offenses resulting in points kept on driving record for seven (7) years
Hawaii Case Specific No point system, fines are assessed depending on the severity of the incident; a record of violations is kept and may result in increased insurance rates May be mandated in event of serious offenses Case specific Offenses may remain on traffic abstract for no more than ten (10) years
Idaho Up to $300 3 points. May cause negligible insurance premiums increases. Not required, may be taken once every three (3) years, drivers may reduce point total by three points Risk of suspension after 11 points in one (1) year or 17 points in two (2) years Point accumulating offenses on driving record for three (3) years
Illinois Up to $75 20 points. Insurance premiums will likely increase. Required for some offenses, can be used as means of dismissing points in lieu of license suspension Mandatory suspension for accumulation of 15 points, revocations begin at 110 points Point accumulating offenses remain on record four (4) to five (5) years
Indiana Always in excess of $100, larger fines typically at officer discretion as well 4 points. Insurance premiums will likely increase. Driver safety program required in case specific situations and in lieu of point total nearing suspension levels Suspension based on hearing if driver accrues more than 18 points in two (2) years Point accumulating offenses remain on record for two (2) years
Iowa $25 No points assessed for moving violations, however habitual infractions may warrant license suspension Courts may require driver improvement program Suspension required if three (3) or more violations assessed in one (1) year period Point and other violations remain on record for at least five (5) years
Kansas Officer discretion No points assessed for moving violations May be required, and may be done every three (3) years to garner better insurance premiums Conviction of three (3) moving violations in one (1) year risks license suspension Violation convictions on record up to five (5) years
Kentucky $20-$100 3 points. Expect negligent insurance premium increases. Not required, can elect to attend once per year if eligible to dismiss violation for given offense causing attendance Suspension hearing required if accumulated more than twelve (12) points in two (2) year period Points expire after two (2) years, but remain on driver record for five (5) years
Louisiana First offense up to $175, subsequent offenses up to $500 No point system, however violations are recorded via a Problem Driver Pointer System; insurance rates may increase depending on severity of the incident May be required, and can be used to suspend conviction of violation Specific violations result in suspension, including the vague wording of "excessive violations", number not noted Less than ten (10) years convictions remain on driving record
Maine $25-$500 2 points. May cause negligible insurance rate increases. May be mandated, can be used to dimiss three (3) demerit points per one (1) year period License suspension for fifteen (15) days required for persons with more than 12 demerit points in 12 month period Violations remain on driving record for three (3) years up to no more than ten (10) years
Maryland Up to $500 1 point. Insurance premium may increase. None License revoked for drivers with 12 points (19 if driver using vehicle for employment) in two (2) years Violations expunged from driving record every three (3) year cycle
Massachusetts Determined by district or municipal court. 2 points. Insurance will likely increase. Required if driver accumulates five (5) surchargeable events in three (3) years License suspensions begin with three (3) speeding violations being recorded in a one (1) year period All driving records remain in affect from "mid-eighties" to present
Michigan Up to $2000 3 points. Expect negligent insurance premium increases. Potentially mandated Accrual of 12 points on two (1) year period subject driver to license suspension of not more than one (1) year Points remain on driving record ever more than ten (10) years, affecting insurance rates for about three (3) years
Minnesota Up to $1000 No point system assessed for moving violations Courts may require driver improvement course in lieu of or on top of existing offenses Conviction of three (3) offenses in one (1) year results in license suspension, length determined via hearing Offense counts ended on yearly cycle
Mississippi $5-$50 No point system, fines are assessed depending on the severity of the incident; a record of violations is kept and may result in increased insurance rates Potentially mandated, but can be used to dismiss offenses Suspension or revocation at discretion of licensing agency Offenses maintained on active record for more than four (4) years
Missouri Up to $200 4 points. Insurance premiums will likely increase. Either mandated or voluntarily undergone to reduce point total Driver subject to suspension for accumulation of more than 8 points in eighteen (18) months Moving violations maintained on record up to three (3) years, suspension on record for five (5) years
Montana First offense is $10 to $100, second offense (within 1 year) is $25 to $200, subsequent offense (within 1 year) is $50 to $500. 2 points. May cause negligible insurance rate increases. Potentially mandated as sanction, but will not reduce or dismiss points Accrual of 6 points in eighteen (18) months makes driver subject to sanctions, but accrual of 15 points in thirty-six (36) months mandates suspension Points applied to record for three (3) years, but traffic violations remain in state database permanently
Nebraska First offense is up to $100, second offense (within 1 year) up to $200, subsequent offense (within 1 year) up to $300. 4 points. Insurance premiums will likely increase. Possibly mandated as sanction, but also, can be used to remove 2 points every five (5) years Accumulation of 12 points in two (2) years immediately revokes license for six (6) months Driver's record viewed as public record, and infractions remain visible indefinitely
Nevada Up to $1000, normally much less. 6 points. Expect negligent insurance premium increase. Potentially required, but also, can be used once per one (1) year period to reduce points voluntarily Accrual of 12 points in twelve (12) months results in six (6) month license suspension Driver records maintained for three (3) years for private individuals, longer for commercial drivers
New Hampshire Up to $1000 4 points. Insurance premiums will likely increase. Required in some instances and as possible means of reducing points Accrual of 12 points in twelve (12) months results in three (3) month license suspension Points remain on driving record for three (3) years using Jan.1 as effective start date of three year period
New Jersey $50-$200 2 points. Insurance may be affected depending on total number of points accrued to date. Case pending may be required, otherwise can be used to remove 2 points from record Accrual of 12 points in two (2) year period requires 30 day suspension of license Driver history abstract available in complete form or within five (5) year period
New Mexico Up to $300 3 points. May cause negligible insurance premiums increases. May be mandated or voluntarily undergone for points reduction Accumulation of 7 to 10 points in one (1) year may result in three (3) month suspension, pending hearing  
New York Case Specific 3 points. Expect negligent insurance premium increases. Potentially required in specific cases, and may be used to remove up to 4 points in some cases Accumulation of 11 points in eighteen (18) month period results in one (1) month license suspension Driving record points may be removed no later than four (4) years from offense, but potetnial to view last ten (10) years of record available
North Carolina Up to $1000 2 points. May cause negligible insurance rate increases. Driver improvement clinics may be mandated, and can be used once every five (5) years for 3 point reduction Accumulation of more than 12 points in three (3) years makes license subject to suspension Driving record points counted against driver for up to three (3) years, and violations on record available for viewing up to seven (7) years
North Dakota Up to $500 Case Specific Not required, driver may elect to undergo driver improvement course once annually to reduce by 2 points Every point accumulated above 11 points requires seven (7) day license suspension Violations older than three (3) years do not remain on driving record
Ohio Up to $100 2 points. Insurance will likely increase. May be required, remedial driving instruction may be legally required to reinstate driving priviledges Accumulation of more than 12 points in two (2) years makes drivers subject to six (6) month suspension Violtaions older than three (3) years are not included in current driving record
Oklahoma Up to $200 2 points. Insurance premiums may increase. Potentially mandated, but also can be used to reduce 2 points Accumulation of more than 10 points subjects driver to license suspension of one (1) month Offenses in last three (3) years are recorded on driving records
Oregon Up to $300 No point system, fines are assessed depending on the severity of the incident; a record of violations is kept and may result in increased insurance rates May be mandated, but not possible to reduce offense total Conviction of four (4) offenses in eighteen (18) month period requires hearing with driver improvement interview Offenses and convictions for traffic violations remain on record more than five (5) years
Pennsylvania $25 3 points. Expect negligent insurance premium increases. May be mandated as sanction, but not means of reducing violation or dismissing points Accumulation of more than 6 points requires examination, accumulation of 6 more points requires hearing of potential suspension Violations remain on record for three (3) years, and for employment checks only, ten (10) year records can be obtained
Rhode Island Case Specific No points assessed for moving violations, however habitual infractions may warrant license suspension May be mandated by licensing authority Incurring three or more major violations in three year period results in one to five year suspension of license Records of violations and offenses kept for three (3) years
South Carolina Up ro $200 2 points. Insurance will likely increase. Potentially mandated and means of removing 4 points Accumulation of 12 points in twelve months results in suspension, points older than one (1) year counted at half value Driving records are available in three (3) and ten (10) year increments
South Dakota Up to $200 2 points. May increase insurance premiums. No Accumulating 15 more points in one (1) year, or 22 points in two (2) year period results in suspension of 60 days Driving records of offenses and violations maintained indefintitely, points remain on record for three (3) years
Tennessee Up to $50 No point system, however violations are recorded via a Problem Driver Pointer System; insurance rates may increase depending on severity of the incident May be mandated, and drivers may reduce points through course once every five (5) years Accumulation of more than 12 points in one (1) year period results in license suspension Driving records maintained for three (3) years
Texas Up to $200 2 points. May increase insurance premiums. Potentially required, and may be used to dismiss violation Incurring four (4) or more violations in one (1) year runs risk of suspension Driving record offenses and violations remain on record for no more than five (5) years
Utah Officer discretion 40 points. Expect insurance premiums to increase. Possibly court mandated, and if necessary, can be used once every three (3) years to remove 50 points Accumulating more than 200 points on license, if over 21 years old, in three (3) year period results in mandatory suspension of three (3) months Moving violations remain on driving record for three (3) years
Vermont Case Specific 2 points. Insurance will likely increase. May be required, possibly required as part of license reinstatement if license has been suspended or revoked. Incuring 10 or more points in two (2) year period results in license suspension Violations remain on record for no more than three (3) years
Virginia Up to $150 3 points. May cause negligible insurance premiums increases. Driver improvement clinic may be required, and possibly used to offset 5 demerit points Accumulating more than 18 points in one (1) year, or more than 24 points in two (2) years results in license suspension Moving violations remain on driving record for three (3) years and speeding violations remain on record for five (5) years in state
Washington Up to $250 No point system, fines are assessed depending on the severity of the incident; a record of violations is kept and may result in increased insurance rates Potentially required by court authority Accruing four (4) offenses in one (1) year or five (5) offenses in two (2) years leaves potential for authority to suspend license as desired Moving violations and accidents remain on driving record for five (5) years
West Virginia Up to $100 3 points. May cause negligible insurance premiums increases. Drivers may be legally bound to attend, and attendance may reduce points as well Accumulating more than 12 points results in license suspension for no more than one (1) year at discretion of authority  
Wisconsin Up to $300 3 points. Expect negligent insurance premium increases. Sometimes required, but voluntarily taken can reduce points by 3 every five (5) years Incurring 12 or more points in one (1) year makes driver subject to suspension at discretion of authority Violations, suspensions, and revocations remain on record for five (5) years from date of conviction
Wyoming Up to $200 No point system, fines are assessed depending on the severity of the incident; a record of violations is kept and may result in increased insurance rates No Conviction of four (4) violations in one (1) year period results in 90 day suspension Violations remain on driver's record for no more than three (3) years

Hiring a Lawyer

In situations of an unsafe lane change charge, note that it is generally your word against a police officer's word. With the aid of a qualified attorney, the case may have mitigation, charges reduced or even dropped altogether. In other situations, you will have fewer points added to your driver's license and pay reduced fees. Keep in mind that if the case does not have a reduction in charges or the charges dropped, this could affect your license and insurance for years to come.

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