Yep, that’s right! While running an errand during a break from work, I was stopped by one of Austin’s finest. In the end, I ended up getting a ticket. And, I’ll freely admit that I was guilty of what the officer described! The only problem is: What I was ticketed for is NOT against the law!
I work in Austin, TX near Metric and Braker. During one of my breaks from work, I made a quick trip to purchase an air compressor from a Craigslist seller. He lived near Lamar and North Loop. On my way back, I was going north on N. Lamar approaching Hwy 183. At the stop light at Morrow street, I was in the left lane. Intending to turn north on 183, I realized that I needed to be in the right lane (the green arrow on the map). So, when the light turned green, I pulled through the intersection, used my turn signal, and smoothly moved over two lanes. There was only one vehicle, several car lengths to the right-rear of me; and, I was never close enough to him to be in any way reckless.
Anyway, in my move to get to the right lane, I drove over the solid white line that delineates the regular lanes from the “exit” lane (where the little red arrow points). I continued on, through the next couple of lights, turning onto the northbound access road. Then, flashing red & blue lights caught my attention. I was being pulled over by an Austin cop. But, for what?! I thought maybe I had clipped through a yellow light at one of the signals or something.
I pulled into the Capital Metro Park-n-Ride, turned off the ignition, turned ON the interior light, rolled my window down, put my keys on top of the cab, and my hands on the steering wheel. When the officer approached, he asked if I knew why I had been pulled over. I said that I did not. “You crossed over the white line back there,” he said. I said, “Huh? Where?” I thought he was talking about a stop limit line at a stop light; but, I never go past those thick white bars. He explained what he was referring to, then told me to sit tight until he came back. While he was gone, I was thinking, “there weren’t any prohibitive white markings back there!” The satellite picture above is a little outdated. Below is a more current view, showing only a single white line, and no chevrons in the wider part where it splits.
So, the cop came back with a citation for “crossed solid white line”. He said he could give me a ticket for “unsafe lane change”, but he was giving me this one because it’d “be a little cheaper”. I thought, “That’s good, because ‘unsafe lane change’ is a legitimate charge. ‘Crossed solid white line’ is NOT!” So, I accepted my ticket for something that isn’t even illegal and went on back to work.
Now here’s a little explanation of what all the different lane markings mean:
The official meaning of lane markings in Texas is not detailed in the Transportation Code. Instead, section 544.001 of the Transportation Code requires that the state adopt a manual that details all the specifics of signs, signals, and markings. The manual that has been adopted is the Texas Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (Texas MUTCD); and, this manual is the “law” when it comes to all traffic control devices, including lane markings. The meaning of the various devices described in the MUTCD is enforceable.
Many people aren’t sure exactly what particular lane markings mean. Heck, some people don’t even know why some lines are white and some yellow! So, here’s a little guide, showing what the lines/markings mean.
So, I’ve plead “not guilty” on my ticket, and am waiting to hear from the court regarding an arraignment date. We’ll see how it goes; and, I’ll keep you updated.
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