Law

How long will it take to settle my case?

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People injured in car accidents in Seattle may think twice before hiring a Seattle personal injury because they believe it will take too long to settle their case if they hire a lawyer. This could not be further from the truth.

Seattle car accident injury lawyers will not try to settle your case until you are fully healed or until they approach the statute of limitations if you have not fully healed by then. The reason for this is because you do not want to try to settle your case until your injuries are fully healed in order to fully know the amount of cost of your treatment.

People will some times try to settle their own case without a Seattle personal injury lawyer before their injuries are fully healed because they are pressured by the insurance company to settle their car accident injury case early. They will also do so because they believe that they are a good negotiator and know how much money they want in their pocket. However, if you settle before you get all your treatment, you may be surprised on how much the treatment you need to get you better is going to cost you out of pocket. This could leave you with nothing in your pocket after you pay for everything out of the settlement if you try to settle your case before your injuries are fully healed.

A Seattle personal injury lawyer will be able to make sure all of your treatment is paid for before trying to settle your case or at least know how much your out of pocket costs are going to be so they can include this in the settlement. Not knowing how much your treatment is going to cost or has costed you so far can leave you with nothing in your pocket once you are fully healed.

Seattle personal injury lawyers will try to settle your case after you are fully healed. Most personal injury lawyers can settle a car accident injury case without filing a lawsuit if they are trained at negotiating. This means that your case can be completely settled within two to three months of being completely healed and resuming normal activities at 100%.

Filing a lawsuit is necessary where insurance companies are not offering fair compensation for your injuries and leaving you with little or no money in your pocket. Most insurance companies are good faith negotiators that will try to make a fair deal.

Andrew CherinHow long will it take to settle my case?
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When do you have to stop for school buses?

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A lot of people are confused on where and when people are supposed to stop for school buses in Seattle. Some people believe that oncoming traffic doesn’t have to stop but the cars behind the bus do have to stop. When do you have to stop for school buses?

According to RCW 46.61.370 and SMC 11.53.440, you must stop for school buses if you are traveling behind the school bus  no matter the type of road or highway you are on if the school bus driver has their amber stop sign out and flashing. If you are going the opposite direction of the school bus, you must stop for the school bus on all roads except those divided by a barrier or roads with three or more lanes or traffic going each direction.

Stopping for school buses is for the safety of the children on the bus that need to cross the street to get to their house or get onto the bus. Not stopping for buses creates a danger where young children may run into the street and possibly get hit by a car causing a car accident to the young pedestrian. Stopping for school buses helps avoids pedestrian car accidents to young children and preventing significant injuries suffered in Seattle car accidents.

Fines for not stopping for a school bus with a stop sign out on the bus are double and are $419 in King County.

The Seattle school district along with others school districts in King County have installed high resolution cameras on their school bus stop signs to take pictures of license plates of cars that do not obey the stop sign of school buses. The pictures are sent to King County Sheriff to enforce.

During a pilot program last year, Seattle school district officials said they recorded nearly 600 vehicles passing a stopped school bus over 112 school days. While it’s against the law to pass a stopped bus, bus drivers don’t have time to record license-plate numbers and other information on their own.

11.53.440 – Overtaking and passing school bus.

Except as provided in subsections C and D of this section, the driver of a vehicle upon overtaking or meeting from either direction any school bus which has stopped on a roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging any schoolchildren shall stop the vehicle before reaching such school bus when there is in operation on the school bus a visual signal as specified in Section 11.82.520 and the driver shall not proceed until such school bus resumes motion or the visual signals are no longer activated.

B.

The driver of a school bus shall actuate the visual signals required by Section 11.82.520 only when the school bus is stopped on a roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging schoolchildren.

C.

The driver of a vehicle upon a street divided into separate roadways as provided in Section 11.53.080 need not stop upon meeting a school bus which is proceeding in the opposite direction and is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging schoolchildren.

D.

The driver of a vehicle upon a street with three (3) or more marked traffic lanes need not stop upon meeting a school bus which is proceeding in the opposite direction and is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging schoolchildren.

E.

The driver of a school bus may stop completely off the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children only when the school children do not have to cross the roadway. The school bus driver shall actuate the hazard warning lamps a defined in RCW 46.37.215 before loading or unloading school children at such stops.

F.

No school bus shall stop on an arterial street at a location other than an intersection, except at designated bus zones, passenger load zones, school loading zones, or load and unload zones for the purpose of receiving or discharging schoolchildren; provided, that school buses receiving or discharging handicapped, impaired or disabled students may stop at the most advantageous location for loading and unloading. (RCW 46.61.370)

(Ord. 119011 § 13, 1998: Ord. 108200 , § 2(11.53.440), 1979.)

RCW 46.61.370

Overtaking or meeting school bus, exceptions—Duties of bus driver—Penalty—Safety cameras.

(1) The driver of a vehicle upon overtaking or meeting from either direction any school bus which has stopped on the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging any school children shall stop the vehicle before reaching such school bus when there is in operation on said school bus a visual signal as specified in RCW 46.37.190 and said driver shall not proceed until such school bus resumes motion or the visual signals are no longer activated.
(2) The driver of a vehicle upon a highway divided into separate roadways as provided in RCW 46.61.150 need not stop upon meeting a school bus which is proceeding in the opposite direction and is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children.
(3) The driver of a vehicle upon a highway with three or more marked traffic lanes need not stop upon meeting a school bus which is proceeding in the opposite direction and is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children.
(4) The driver of a school bus shall actuate the visual signals required by RCW 46.37.190 only when such bus is stopped on the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children.
(5) The driver of a school bus may stop completely off the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children only when the school children do not have to cross the roadway. The school bus driver shall actuate the hazard warning lamps as defined in RCW 46.37.215 before loading or unloading school children at such stops.
(6) Except as provided in subsection (7) of this section, a person found to have committed an infraction of subsection (1) of this section shall be assessed a monetary penalty equal to twice the total penalty assessed under RCW 46.63.110. This penalty may not be waived, reduced, or suspended. Fifty percent of the money so collected shall be deposited into the school zone safety account in the custody of the state treasurer and disbursed in accordance with RCW 46.61.440(5).
(7) An infraction of subsection (1) of this section detected through the use of an automated school bus safety camera under RCW 46.63.180 is not a part of the registered owner’s driving record under RCW 46.52.101 and 46.52.120, and must be processed in the same manner as parking infractions, including for the purposes of RCW 3.50.10035.20.22046.16A.120, and46.20.270(3). However, the amount of the fine issued for a violation of this section detected through the use of an automated school bus safety camera shall not exceed twice the monetary penalty for a violation of this section as provided under RCW46.63.110.

Driving on divided highways.

Whenever any highway has been divided into two or more roadways by leaving an intervening space or by a physical barrier or clearly indicated dividing section or by a median island not less than eighteen inches wide formed either by solid yellow pavement markings or by a yellow crosshatching between two solid yellow lines so installed as to control vehicular traffic, every vehicle shall be driven only upon the right-hand roadway unless directed or permitted to use another roadway by official traffic-control devices or police officers. No vehicle shall be driven over, across or within any such dividing space, barrier or section, or median island, except through an opening in such physical barrier or dividing section or space or median island, or at a crossover or intersection established by public authority.

 

Andrew CherinWhen do you have to stop for school buses?
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Water causing a car accident – whose fault?

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This is the rainy season in Seattle and there is no shortage of water on the road. Seattle wet weather plus Seattle aggressive driving equals car accidents. It is a fact that people in Seattle drive way too fast in the rain. These people must not have been in a car accident yet because if they have been in one they would drive much slower in the rain. Whose fault is the car accident if you drive and slide out because of the rain?

Sliding out or hydroplaning in the rain, is a term that describes cars losing traction with the ground. A car generally loses traction to the ground in wet weather where the car is driving too fast for conditions and there is too much water on the ground.

There is actually a law in Seattle that makes it illegal to drive too fast for conditions. The law states that – “No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing.”

Heavy rain qualifies as a potential hazard which requires you to drive slower than the speed limit. A reasonable and prudent person would drive slower if there is heavy rain and water standing on the road.

Therefore, if you hydroplane into another car, you are at fault for the personal injuries that the other person may suffer because of you driving too fast for conditions. Your insurance will cover any injuries and damage that the other person suffered in the car accident. If you have been injured, please contact a Seattle personal injury lawyer immediately for a free consultation.

RCW 46.61.400

Basic rule and maximum limits.

(1) No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing. In every event speed shall be so controlled as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle or other conveyance on or entering the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.
(2) Except when a special hazard exists that requires lower speed for compliance with subsection (1) of this section, the limits specified in this section or established as hereinafter authorized shall be maximum lawful speeds, and no person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed in excess of such maximum limits.
(a) Twenty-five miles per hour on city and town streets;
(b) Fifty miles per hour on county roads;
(c) Sixty miles per hour on state highways.
The maximum speed limits set forth in this section may be altered as authorized in RCW 46.61.40546.61.410, and46.61.415.
(3) The driver of every vehicle shall, consistent with the requirements of subsection (1) of this section, drive at an appropriate reduced speed when approaching and crossing an intersection or railway grade crossing, when approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hill crest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, and when special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions.
Andrew CherinWater causing a car accident – whose fault?
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Can Uber or Lyft drivers stop wherever they want?

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I know you have all been behind a car that you think is just a random car in Seattle only to find it abruptly stop and throw on its hazard lights. It is so frustrating to be behind what you think is a normal car only to find it stop in the middle of the road and you nearly get in a car accident because they are an Uber or Lyft driver dropping off or picking up a passenger. Is it legal for them to stop in the middle of the road wherever they want and nearly cause a car accident?

It is actually illegal for Uber and Lyft drivers to put on their hazard lights and stop in the middle of the road to allow passengers in or out of their car. This requires a fine and is a moving violation not a parking violation.

SMC 11.72.040 – Blocking or obstructing traffic—Occupied vehicle.

No person shall stop, stand or park a vehicle and remain therein upon or along any street when traffic will be unreasonably obstructed. Violation of this section constitutes a moving traffic violation rather than a parking violation. (RCW 46.61.560)

How then can and should Uber and Lyft drivers let passengers in and out of their car? Uber and Lyft drivers should only let passengers out in designated load an unload areas in downtown Seattle. This is why these areas were created and why no one is allowed to park in these areas.

Some will point to RCW 6.61.560(3) as creating an exception for Uber drivers to use their hazard lights to drop off and load passengers. However, this subsection only applies to public transport and non profit organizations that transport disabled people. This subsection does not create an exception for Uber and Lyft which are for profit organization who are not primarily transporting disabled people.

RCW 6.61.560(3) Subsection (1) of this section does not apply to the driver of a public transit vehicle who temporarily stops the vehicle upon the roadway for the purpose of and while actually engaged in receiving or discharging passengers at a marked transit vehicle stop zone approved by the state department of transportation or a county upon highways under their respective jurisdictions. However, public transportation service providers, including private, nonprofit transportation providers regulated under chapter 81.66 RCW, may allow the driver of a transit vehicle to stop upon the roadway momentarily to receive or discharge passengers at an unmarked stop zone only under the following circumstances: (a) The driver stops the vehicle in a safe and practicable position; (b) the driver activates four-way flashing lights; and (c) the driver stops at a portion of the highway with an unobstructed view, for an adequate distance so as to not create a hazard, for other drivers.

Andrew CherinCan Uber or Lyft drivers stop wherever they want?
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Is smoking and driving illegal in Seattle?

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With Washington State’s new distracted driving laws in full effect, many things you do while in the car can now be a fineable and insurance reportable offense. Smoking a cigarette, not an e-cigarette or vape pen, while driving is a highly distracting behavior and should be a primary offense but it is not. Smoking while driving is a secondary offense in Washington State. This means that if you must have committed another driving offense you can get a ticket for smoking while driving  in addition.

You can get a ticket for a secondary offense called dangerously distracted driving if you are doing any activity not related to driving that in the officer’s view interferes with driving safely, which includes smoking a cigarette. If an officer sees you make an illegal lane change, drive in an erratic manner, speed, run a stop sign, cause a car accident, fail to yield to a pedestrian, run a red light, or commit any other traffic stop worthy offense, you can be ticketed for an additional penalty if you were smoking a cigarette and the officer believes this contributed to your distraction.

Smoking a cigarette while driving is a highly distracting behavior that causes dangers to those around them and those riding in the car with them. If a driver decides to start smoking during their drive, they must take one hand off the wheel and look around their car for the cigarette and lighter, they must physically look away from the road in front of them, and they must be very careful to light the cigarette on the steering wheel. Additionally, they will need to ash their cigarette either into the car’s cigarette tray or out of the window. The entire process of lighting and smoking a cigarette while driving is extremely dangerous.

The National Institutes of Health published a report examining the impact of smoking while driving and its consequences. The study found that on average, drivers who were smoking were even more distracted than people who used a cell phone. Cigarette smokers averaged 12.0 seconds of distraction (equitable to traveling 525 feet without looking at the road), while cell phone users averaged 10.6 seconds of distraction (traveling 492 feet).

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration conducted a 5-year study into the dangers of smoking while driving a truck and discovered that smoking was a source of distraction in about 1 percent of all distraction-related car accidents for truck drivers. This is also just the reported number of people that said that they were smoking. Many people probably didn’t say that they were smoking because they were embarrassed or ashamed.

The ticket price: An additional $99 is added to the other primary offense.

Dangerously distracted driving.

(1)(a) It is a traffic infraction to drive dangerously distracted. Any driver who commits this infraction must be assessed a base penalty of thirty dollars.
(b) Enforcement of the infraction of driving dangerously distracted may be accomplished only as a secondary action when a driver of a motor vehicle has been detained for a suspected violation of a separate traffic infraction or an equivalent local ordinance.
(c) For the purposes of this section, “dangerously distracted” means a person who engages in any activity not related to the actual operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of such motor vehicle on any highway.
Andrew CherinIs smoking and driving illegal in Seattle?
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Why a chiropractor is a must for someone injured in a car accident?

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If you are injured in a car accident in Seattle, there are few better places to seek treatment than at a chiropractor, assuming you didn’t need to go to the hospital first.

Car accident injuries have a tendency to primarily injure the spine and neck regions of a person, among other injuries. Of course you can injure other areas of your body in a car accident but almost all car accident will cause injury to the spine and neck as well. This is because seats and safety restraints in average cars do a good job of sitting you up right but do not fully restrain you into the seat during a jolting car accident. This is why you see people in Nascar who are securely restrained to the seat suffer far less injuries to themselves than the same type of impact to a normal car.

Chiropractors primarily focus on treating injuries to the spine and neck to make sure that your spine and neck are primarily in line so your body can function as optimally as possible. Chiropractors do this by a number of different ways including tiny corrective adjustments to the spine and neck region.

Chiropractors are a great first stop for anyone injured in a car accident because they can take x-rays of your spine, do an exhaustive examination of your range of motions in your neck and back, refer you out for an MRI, and refer you out to a specialist if you need a consultation with an orthopaedic surgeon.

In addition to spinal adjustments, many chiropractors create and instruct physical therapy routines for their patients. The injured person can then use on their own to strengthen key supportive muscles that may have been weakened in a car accident.

Some chiropractic facilities also provide massage therapists, acupuncturists, and physical therapists on site so that you can receive all the treatment you need in a one stop shop versus running all over town to different appointments. This creates a wellness team that can really multiply the healing hands on a person that is injured in a car accident in order to get them better and back to their daily routine as quick as possible.

From a car accident injury lawyer standpoint, I can tell you that from the clients of mine that have gone to a chiropractor versus the ones that do not, the clients who go to a chiropractor regularly get better much faster and fuller than those that do not.

A Seattle personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the insurance coverage and non coverage in order to make sure you can get the chiropractic care you need. Even if you don’t have insurance, some chiropractors are willing to wait until you receive a settlement to get paid, but will require you to have a Seattle personal injury lawyer guarantee payment out of the settlement.

Andrew CherinWhy a chiropractor is a must for someone injured in a car accident?
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Who has the right of way at a two way intersection?

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I came across this very scenario the other day while driving but couldn’t figure it out so I let the other guy go first to avoid an accident. If you are approaching an intersection with a stop sign on your side and a stop sign on the other side but non in the center, who has the right of way if you and another car going the opposite way arrive at an intersection and you want to turn left and the want to go straight? Note that you both wait a second for traffic to clear before proceeding.

At a four way stop if this had occurred, you would have the right of way because you were first in time. However, this is different as you are planning on turning left and they are going straight in a two way stop. In this situation, it would appear that you must give way to the person going straight across the intersection.

If there was a collision with the vehicle going straight and you turning left in front of them, there is an argument that could be made that you were first in time so you have the right of way. However, they may be able to point to the law regarding vehicles turning left and giving the right of way to the vehicle coming straight from the opposite direction.

In the alternative, if both vehicles were turning left and a collision occurred, you would have a great argument for being first in time and would in fact have the right of way in this instance. However, you would need an independent witness in order to verify your statement and prove that you were in the right.

Vehicle turning left.

The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left within an intersection or into an alley, private road, or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction which is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.
If you have been injured in a car accident, you should contact a Seattle personal injury lawyer in order to preserve your rights and learn about your potential rights moving forward. Consultations are free and Seattle personal injury lawyers are paid out of the settlement so there is no high hourly fee. Everyone can afford a Seattle personal injury lawyer but you cannot afford not to have one against the insurance companies.
Andrew CherinWho has the right of way at a two way intersection?
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What to do when an ambulance is on the freeway behind you?

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I know a lot of people probably don’t know the answer to this question and many people probably are in violation of this law. Ambulances have their sirens on when they are either on their way to or from an emergency scene to provide life saving support to someone in a very serious car accident or who has suffered life threatening injuries or episode somewhere else. We all need to give these life saving people the space they need to get to where they need to go because every second counts in these situations.

I tried researching what you are supposed to do when an ambulance is driving behind you on the freeway and Washington State laws surrounding this instance. I couldn’t find anything that differentiated a local street from a highway or freeway. Therefore, the law applies to all situations. Therefore, even if you are on the freeway, you are supposed to pull over to the far right hand side of the road and stop your car until the ambulance passes.

As unpractical as this may seem, this is the law. Although it would appear that most people are ok if they move over a couple lanes as best as they can and slow down to let the ambulance or other emergency vehicle pass. This is because there are often a lot of cars on the freeway and highway and it can be dangerous if everyone merged over at once. However, this is not the letter of the law so anyone that does not stop may be subject to a very steep fine.

Operation of vehicles on approach of emergency vehicles.

(1) Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle making use of audible and visual signals meeting the requirements of RCW 46.37.190, or of a police vehicle properly and lawfully making use of an audible signal only the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way and shall immediately drive to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to, the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway clear of any intersection and shall stop and remain in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer.
(2) This section shall not operate to relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway.
Andrew CherinWhat to do when an ambulance is on the freeway behind you?
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What are you supposed to do if an ambulance has it’s lights on?

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If an ambulance or any other vehicle has it’s emergency lights on, not a lot of people know what to do in various circumstances. The reason behind emergency vehicle laws is so that emergency vehicles can get by without causing a car accident and get quickly to the hospital or car accident injury scene to get the injured person the care they need as quickly as possible. 

If an emergency vehicle is driving behind you in the same direction, most people know that you are required to pull over to the side of the road and stop. However, on the freeway most people continue to drive in the direction they are going and do not pull over and stop. Some people may pull over but most do not stop.

If an emergency vehicle has it’s lights on and is approaching from the opposite direction, most people do not pull over and stop. They believe that they can continue in the same direction. However, the law requires all vehicles driving in any direction to pull over to the far side of the road and stop. If you don’t you could be subject to a $1,062 fine.

Here is what the law says:

Operation of vehicles on approach of emergency vehicles.

(1) Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle making use of audible and visual signals meeting the requirements of RCW 46.37.190, or of a police vehicle properly and lawfully making use of an audible signal only the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way and shall immediately drive to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to, the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway clear of any intersection and shall stop and remain in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer.
(2) This section shall not operate to relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway.
Andrew CherinWhat are you supposed to do if an ambulance has it’s lights on?
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What is lane sweeping and is it illegal?

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Lane sweeping is not what you think – a person with a broom sweeping a lane. Lane sweeping is avoiding a lane of traffic in order to get into another on a turn. However, some studies have shown that 50% of drivers commit lane sweeping turns. Lane sweeping is extremely dangerous and can cause severe car accidents and injuries.

If you are turning right or left, you must turn into the lane closest to you. You may not turn into the next lane over just because that is the more ideal lane that you want to be in. You must first enter the lane closest to you and then signal and change into that lane 100 feet later and not immediately.

If someone hits you because they are lane sweeping, they are at fault. You have the right to the closest lane to you and they have the right to the lane closest to them. It can be difficult to maneuver if you are the one turning left and there are cars that could be going straight or turning. You should make sure you recognize the intention of the driver in front of you before proceeding into a left hand turn across oncoming traffic without a green arrow. If a car is going straight, they have the right of way in a non green arrow situation.

Required position and method of turning at intersections.

The driver of a vehicle intending to turn shall do so as follows:
(1) Right turns. Both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.
(2) Left turns. The driver of a vehicle intending to turn left shall approach the turn in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of the vehicle. Whenever practicable the left turn shall be made to the left of the center of the intersection and so as to leave the intersection or other location in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the same direction as the vehicle on the roadway being entered.
Andrew CherinWhat is lane sweeping and is it illegal?
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