Under Florida Statute 316.085, the offense of improper lane change is punishable as a non-criminal traffic infraction, which is punishable as a moving violation (3 points). To better understand what constitutes an improper lane change, here is the statutory language from 316.085:
316.085 Limitations on Overtaking, Passing, Changing Lanes and Changing Course
(1) No vehicle shall be driven to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless authorized by the provisions of this chapter and unless such left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking and passing to be completely made without interfering with the operation of any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction of any vehicle overtaken. In every event the overtaking vehicle must return to an authorized lane of travel as soon as practicable and, in the event the passing movement involves the use of a lane authorized for vehicles approaching from the opposite direction, before coming within 200 feet of any approaching vehicle.
(2) No vehicle shall be driven from a direct course in any lane on any highway until the driver has determined that the vehicle is not being approached or passed by any other vehicle in the lane or on the side to which the driver desires to move and that the move can be completely made with safety and without interfering with the safe operation of any vehicle apporaching from the same direction.
(3) A violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a moving violation as provided in chapter 318.
What does this mean?
As you may have discovered, the language of this statute is complex and quite often, confusing. Whenever you are issued a citation for improper lane change, it is important that you have a Tampa Traffic Lawyer review the facts of your case and determine whether your actions include all of the elements of an improper lane change offense. Many times, these citations are issued when two vehicles involved in a simultaneous lane change collide and the ticket will be issued based solely on the drivers' statements. In cases like this, the other driver must appear in court to offer testimony and help the state meet their burden. It is important to have an attorney who can cross-examine this witness and raise reasonable doubt with regards to the merits of the state's case. If you would like to discuss your improper lane change citation, please give my office a call at (727) 260-5754 for a free consultation.