Is It Illegal To Change Lanes In An Intersection In Rhode Island?

We were unable to find any statutes making it illegal to change lanes in an intersection in Rhode Island.

That doesn’t make Rhode Island unique in this respect.

Very few states have made this driving action unlawful.

Read on to learn about relevant traffic laws in this state that you should be informed about.

Is It Illegal To Change Lanes In An Intersection In Rhode Island? (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?

The best place to look to confirm whether a maneuver is legal (or not) is the current and applicable laws of the state you are present in (not the DMV handbook or a news article).

In Rhode Island, entering into an intersection is legislated under statute § 31-15-12.1:

(a) The driver of a motor vehicle shall not enter an intersection whether or not any traffic signal is green unless there is sufficient space in the roadway he or she is about to enter beyond the intersection to receive his or her vehicle without blocking the intersection. Violations of this section are subject to fines enumerated in section 31-41.1-4, unless bodily injury, serious bodily injury or death occurs to any person other than the offending operator under this section.

Fines increase when there is bodily harm to others, rising based on the severity. See the entire statute for more specifics.

Source: Rhode Island Traffic code § 31-15-12.1

Knowing when to yield the right-of-way is important, particularly at an intersection with a through highway:

The driver of a vehicle shall stop at the entrance to a through highway and shall yield the right-of-way to other vehicles which have entered the intersection from the through highway, or which are approaching so closely on the through highway as to constitute an immediate hazard, but the driver having so yielded may proceed and the drivers of all other vehicles approaching the intersection on the through highway shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle so proceeding into or across the through highway.

Source: Rhode Island Traffic code § 31-17-3

Additionally, turning at an intersection is legislated for under statute § 31-16-2:

(2) (i) Left turns on two-way roadways. At any intersection where traffic is permitted to move in both directions on each roadway entering the intersections, an approach for a left turn shall be made in that portion of the right half of the roadway nearest the center line of it and by passing to the right of the center line where it enters the intersection, and, after entering the intersection, the left turn shall be made so as to leave the intersection to the right of the center line of the roadway being entered. Whenever practicable the left turn shall be made in that portion of the intersection to the left of the center of the intersection.

See the remainder of the information on right turns, and all types of left-turn as specified in this statute.

Source: Rhode Island Traffic Code § 31-16-2

Passing and overtaking has at least one statute related to it:

(1) The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall give a timely, audible signal and shall pass to the left at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.

The overtaken car must give way too:

(2) Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle on audible signal and shall not increase the speed of his or her vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.

Source: Rhode Island Traffic code § 31-15-4

Vehicles passing in opposite directions are covered in statute § 31-15-3:

Drivers of vehicles proceeding in opposite directions shall pass each other to the right, and upon roadways having a width for not more than one line of traffic in each direction, each driver shall give to the other at least one-half of the main traveled portion of the roadway as nearly as possible.

Source: Rhode Island Traffic code § 31-15-3

Neither changing lanes nor overtaking at an intersection was found to be prohibited, as long as it is conducted safely.

Why Do People Generally Think That It’s Illegal To Change Lanes In An Intersection?

It is pretty common to be taught that you should not change lanes in intersections while learning to drive.

The assumption is often made that the reason is that there’s a law prohibiting it, when in fact, it is just a bad idea.

Not Illegal In Rhode Island To Change Lanes In An Intersection, So Why Did I Get A Ticket?

You broke a traffic law…..a different one.

A ticket being issued by a peace officer isn’t a small thing.

Of course, it does depend on the extent of the wrongdoing.

Braking too hard causing a domino effect on the driver’s following isn’t ideal.

Switching lanes and forgetting to signal first is easy enough but technically does break Rhode Island law when doing so.

And sometimes, several different actions are cited as driving law infractions.

What Happens If A Car Accident Results?

Should you get involved in an auto accident, it shouldn’t be ignored or brushed off as unimportant.

Not only will the driving conduct be reviewed closely, but in the event of an accident, other factors also come into play too.

Rhode Island takes property damage and personal injuries seriously.

Be sure to confer a Rhode Island motor vehicle accident attorney at your earliest convenience if you’ve been involved in an auto accident.

Wrap Up

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Is It Illegal To Change Lanes In An Intersection In Rhode Island