Nebraska Supreme Court overrules Lincoln city code involving red arrow turns

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — On Friday, the Nebraska Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling on the legality of making left turns on one-way streets at a solid red arrow.

The decision in State v. Albarenga looked at a driving under the influence and automatic traffic signal violation back in June 2019.

According to court documents, an officer with the Lincoln Police Department saw Seidy Albarenga heading north on 17th Street.

Albarenga stopped at the intersection of 17th and Q Streets and turned left on a solid red arrow.

The court document said, “The law enforcement officer initiated a traffic stop on the grounds that Albarenga ‘violated the left turn arrow.'”

A chemical test determined that her blood alcohol content was 0.142, and she was found guilty of both charges in County Court

The case was brought to the District Court, which upheld the conviction, and would later be addressed by the Court of Appeals, which came to the same conclusion.

But the Supreme Court reversed the traffic violation conviction while upholding the DUI charge.

The court ruled, in a unanimous decision written by Justice John Freudenberg, that the Lincoln ordinance on left-hand turns was preempted by state law.

Lincoln Municipal Code 10.12.030 forbids making a left turn onto a one-way street on a red arrow. But Nebraska law says drivers facing a “steady red indication” can turn left at the intersection of two one-way streets.

The court found that “indication” includes an arrow.

With the reversal, it is now legal again to turn left on a solid red arrow at a one-way, unless there is signage stating otherwise.

To read more on the case, visit the court’s opinions page and click on case S-21-213 (313 Neb.72).

For the full Municipal Code for the City of Lincoln, click here.

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