Is It Illegal to Change Lanes in an Intersection in Maryland?

  • Time to read: 4 min.

No, we were unable to locate any laws relating to or prohibiting a driver from choosing to change lanes in an intersection in Maryland.

Nevertheless, it is not sensible to do so, and you can still receive a ticket (though pursuant to other aspects of the traffic code). 

Our article below goes into greater detail.

Is It Illegal To Change Lanes In An Intersection In Maryland? (EXPLAINED)

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Where Are The Laws That I Can Look To In Order To Confirm Whether Lane Changes In An Intersection In This State Are Legal/Illegal?

Despite a thorough search, we were unable to find a law specifically prohibiting carrying out a lane change in an intersection. 

Instead, there are state traffic laws that broadly clarify what is legally expected from drivers and the vehicles they are responsible for. 

We did locate the following Maryland state law:

A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and may not be moved from that lane or moved from a shoulder or bikeway into a lane until the driver has determined that it is safe to do so.

Source: MD. Transportation Code Ann. § 21-309 (2020)

Also, we found this further state driving law:

The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle that is going in the same direction, until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle, may not drive any part of his vehicle directly in front of the overtaken vehicle.

Source: MD. Transportation Code Ann. § 21-303 (2020)

Furthermore, referring to no-passing zones specifically, the following is part of driving laws in Maryland:

The State Highway Administration may determine those parts of any highway in its jurisdiction where overtaking and passing or driving on the left of the roadway would be especially dangerous and, by appropriate signs or markings on the roadway, may indicate the beginning and end of these zones.

Source: MD. Transportation Code Ann. § 21-307 (2020)

Our information has been pulled directly from the Justia law search website, based on valid Maryland driving “laws of the road” statutes.  

While the statutes relating to driving do not make specific mention of changing lanes at an intersection, they do explore changing lanes in different situations. 

For example, driving safely by indicating before changing lanes or making a turn, could reasonably apply to traveling across an intersection too.

Mention is also made of not changing lanes unless it is believed safe to do so.

Maryland clearly expects all drivers to use good sense when making lane-changing decisions. 

While some parts of the state may have no-passing zones with appropriate signage to indicate it, this isn’t all that common at intersections.

The state codes relating to this were enacted to allow for such zones to be put in place. 

Why Would Some States Make Lane Changes In An Intersection Illegal?

Intersections are tricky to safely navigate. 

There is a lot already going on in front, behind, and on either side of your vehicle. 

When crossing an intersection, it’s safer to keep it simple rather than complicate matters by attempting to safely change lanes at that time. 

Also, the traffic may slow to a stop when the light changes to red.

Looking out for this, plus pedestrians and the unexpected actions of other drivers, is already a lot to process.

It is uncommon to find statutes with state driving laws making it illegal to change lanes while passing through an intersection.

Essentially, most states take the view that drivers would prefer to be more cautious and avoid doing so, altogether.

Additionally, laws relating to safe driving, lane changes, and turn signaling broadly cover lane changes, including in an intersection. 

What If I Changed Lanes In An Intersection and A Crash Occurred?

Every situation is unique.

Careful driving matters to law enforcement officers.

When a crash occurs, how safe the driving was is brought into question. 

Actions like failing to maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front, driving above the speed limit, and or failing to signal the lane change in advance, are all questionable. 

Should a lane change be suggested as the reason why a crash happened, that is when it becomes more serious.

Any injuries or damage to property as a result of the crash, especially if a lane change happened at the intersection, exacerbates the situation. 

Discussing the matter with an experienced Maryland attorney who has recent experience of personal injury and criminal defense cases is recommended. 

Can You Go To Jail In Maryland For Changing Lanes In An Intersection?

Lane changes in an intersection aren’t typically more than a civil infraction.

As such, they aren’t generally something where the jail is even possible. 

The main concern is whether you were a danger to yourself or someone else when behind the wheel.

Other mitigating circumstances may add to any potential legal woes.

For example, any lane change while under the influence, when substantially exceeding the speed limit, using a cell phone, or driving erratically could lead to criminal charges.

Causing damage to property or physical injury to others would also increase the likelihood of a criminal prosecution too. 

Wrap Up

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Is It Illegal to Change Lanes in an Intersection in Maryland