Crossing solid yellow and white lines is usually legal

The in basket: Walt Juneau writes, “I’ve long thought that the markings for the center turn lane on three-lane roads is illogical. The outside line is solid yellow which means, I think, do not cross. The inside line is a broken yellow one which means you can cross. It should follow, then, that it is illegal to turn into the center lane, but legal to turn out of it. What am I missing here?”
He said the need to cross solid yellow and solid white lines make the intersection of Mullenix and Bethel roads in South Kitsap particularly troublesome when one wants to turn onto Spencer Avenue to get to Morrison Gravel.
“The way the lanes are laid out it is impossible to turn right then left to access the road to Morrison without crossing an assortment of do-not-cross lines,” he said. “When leaving Morrison’s to turn right to get to Mullenix Road requires crossing the same lane markings. If one were to obey the markings, it would require taking a very round-about way to go across a short distance.
“Any thoughts on the matter other than to check carefully for police cars first?”
The out basket: Walt’s basic premise that drivers are not to cross solid yellow or solid white lines is in error. You are not to pass other vehicles in a two-way turn lane, or cross a double yellow line to pass in any location. But turning across them is legal.
State Trooper Russ Winger says, “There is no reason one cannot turn legally in either place your writer mentions. Turn lanes are often marked with a solid on the left and solid with skipped (lines) to inside on the right.
“I think in situations where turns are not safe or need to be prohibited, additional signage or markings are often used to emphasize the intent. It is not illegal to turn late into or out of a left-turn lane as long as it is done with safe movement.
“The 18-inch-wide solid or cross-hatched lines constitute a barrier and should not be crossed,” he added
So you can cross a solid white line, even to leave a turn lane to return to the through lane, as long as you are entering a legal driving lane. The shoulder and gore areas at freeway ramps are not legal driving lanes, so driving across those solid white lines is illegal. So is crossing a double white line, such as sometimes demarcates an HOV lane.
As always, crossing any line into another lane requires yielding to vehicles in that lane.

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