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Crossing the Double Yellow Lines

Solid Double Yellow Line

Standard Markings

On two-lane, two-way roadways you are likely to find any of these center line markings:

  • A normal broken yellow line.
  • A double yellow line, one of which is a normal broken yellow line and the other is a normal solid yellow line.
  • Two normal solid yellow lines.

On undivided two-way roadways with four or more lanes the center line always consist of a solid double yellow line.

What They Mean

The lines mark where crossing the center for passing is allowed or not allowed.

A normal broken yellow line tells you that passing is allowed (a passing zone).

When there is one broken and one solid line, traffic traveling adjacent to the broken line can pass (passing zone) and traffic traveling adjacent to the solid line is not allowed to pass (no-passing zone).

Two normal solid yellow lines are used where crossing the center line markings for passing is prohibited for traffic traveling in either direction (no-passing zone).

Pavement Markings - No Passing Zone

Where Are Solid Yellow Lines Used?

No-passing zones are typically found when you approach intersections, railroad crossings, hills, curves, and other locations with limited sight distances or other special conditions.

They mark areas where it is dangerous to move over to the left side of the road for the purpose of passing another vehicle.

Always respect the markings and don’t try to pass other vehicles in a no-passing zone.



Is it Always Illegal to Cross Double Yellow Lines?

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A common misunderstanding. Read more.

#1. Is it always illegal to cross a double yellow line?

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When Can You Cross Double Yellow Lines?

It is a common misunderstanding that you cannot cross a double yellow center line under any circumstances. In fact, you may cross them in some situations.

Where two normal solid yellow lines mark a no-passing zone, you may not drive on the on left side of the roadway or on the left side of the pavement striping to pass.

The keywords here are to pass.

In situations that do not include passing another vehicle, crossing a solid yellow line may be allowed, if it is safe to do so.

  Obstruction on your side of the road

Obviously, you may drive to the left of solid yellow center lines when you are instructed by construction workers, traffic officers, or traffic signs to drive on the other side of the road because your side of the road is closed or blocked. Sometimes only traffic in one direction is allowed and the flow of traffic is controlled by flaggers.

Normally, you are also allowed to temporarily cross the lines if there is an obstruction on your side of the road. A slow-moving vehicle is generally not considered an obstruction – but it can be in certain situations.

Many states have made a clear exception for slow moving bicyclists. In Colorado, as an example, the no-passing law does not apply to:

…the driver of a vehicle passing a bicyclist moving the same direction and in the same lane when such movement can be made in safety and without interfering with, impeding, or endangering other traffic lawfully using the highway.

  Making a left turn into a driveway

You may also cross solid yellow center lines in a no-passing zone when you turn left at an intersection, or turning left into or from an alley, private road, or driveway.

  U-turns (in some states)

Unless prohibited by signs, some states also allow U-turns across a double solid yellow line.

One example is California, where U-turns are specifically allowed (California Vehicle Code 21460).

…The markings as specified in subdivision (a), (b), or (c) do not prohibit a driver from crossing the marking if (1) turning to the left at an intersection or into or out of a driveway or private road, or (2) making a U-turn under the rules governing that turn…

Another is New York, where only one specific exception is mentioned which does not include U-turns (Article 25 – NY Vehicle and Traffic Law, section 1126).

(a) When official markings are in place indicating those portions of any highway where overtaking and passing or driving to the left of such markings would be especially hazardous, no driver of a vehicle proceeding along such highway shall at any time drive on the left side of such markings.

(b) The foregoing limitations shall not apply to the driver of a vehicle turning left while entering or leaving such highway.

Always Use Caution

Whenever you cross yellow center lines, you should always use great caution and not proceed unless you are sure it is safe to do so.

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16 Comments

  1. Can I cross a double yellow line in Minnesota to turn into my driveway?

    • Yes.

      Double yellow lines means that driving to the left of the lines to PASS other vehicles is prohibited. They mark a no-passing zone.

      You may cross the lines in order to make a left turn into a side road or driveway.

  2. What if you turn right on a motorcycle and loose traction you back tire passes the line but you gain control and gat a ticket for your back tire crossing the yellow line

    • I doubt that an officer would give you a ticket if just back tires happen to cross the lines.

      Technically, though, Texas law says: “An operator may not drive on the left side of the roadway in a no-passing zone or on the left side of any pavement striping designed to mark a no-passing zone. This subsection does not prohibit a driver from crossing pavement striping, or the center line in a no-passing zone marked by signs only, to make a left turn into or out of an alley or private road or driveway.”

      So, question is: are you driving on the left side of pavement striping designed to mark a no-passing zone or not?

  3. can you pass a slow moving (under 10mph) over a double yellow? Such as a bike, horse-drawn buggy, or tractor

    • This a good question and not one that is easy to answer, and as very often in this country; it depends on state. Some states mention exceptions in their statutes (like a slow-moving bicycle under certain circumstances), others don’t. Even if statues allow for passing an “obstacle”, a slow-moving vehicle is rarely considered an obstacle.

      Your IP address suggests that you are in the state of New York. NYS statues says “…no driver of a vehicle proceeding along such highway shall at any time drive on the left side of such markings” (1126). The only exception is when “turning left while entering or leaving the highway”.

      Unless you are sure your state allows passing a slow-moving vehicle on the left side in a no-passing zone, be patient and stay behind. Also remember that most states require you to keep a certain distance to bicyclists, which makes passing in the same lane difficult and hazardous, if not impossible and illegal.

      When this subject appears on DMV tests, the answer is usually that you can’t!

  4. @fraziercolby: Colorado Revised Statutes Title 42 Vehicles and Traffic § 42-4-1005 leaves one option to fight the insurance agent’s claim! If signs or markings are in place to define a no-passing zone such signs or markings must be clearly visible to an ordinarily observant person. If it can be argued that signs or markings weren’t clearly visible, you should fight back.

  5. Can you be pulled over just by your tire touching the yellow line but not ever crossing it?

    • No.

      Solid yellow lines prohibit passing another vehicle by driving to the left of the line. Laws typically say something like “on the left side of any pavement striping designed to mark a no-passing zone”.

      • fraziercolby8@gmail.com February 27, 2019 at 3:21 pm

        I recently got pulled over and ticketed in Colorado for “passing on left while prohibited by markings”. I went to pass a vehicle with dashed yellow on my side which we are allowed to do and the vehicle sped up causing me to return into my lane after passing over a double yellow. Was I ticketed wrongly? I mean how do you really know the double yellow is coming to return to your lane in time..

      • You were driving on the left side of the road within an area marked with a double yellow line (a no-passing zone). I would say that the ticket is correct.

        Double yellow lines are found in locations where passing is hazardous (close to curves and hills, just to mention the most common places). By scanning the road ahead most of these places should be easy to spot. Which should be enough to discourage the careful driver to start passing.

        Often, you can also see the yellow pennant no-passing sign on left side of the road as an extra alert of the no-passing zone. When you see this sign from a distance, or when you start passing, it can help you determine if you have sufficient distance ahead to complete a pass or not.

        It is always your responsibility to make sure you can pass the other vehicle safely and return to the appropriate lane before a no-passing zone. You cannot assume other drivers will keep their speed, slow down, or make room – even if that is common courtesy and sometimes also required by state law.

  6. Can I turn into a business even if it’s a double yellow line?

    • A double yellow line marks a two-direction no-passing zone. The line prohibits passing for traffic traveling in either direction. It does not prohibit crossing the line when making a left turn. (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.)

      The Uniform Vehicle Code, which acts as a model law, recommends that state law shall not be construed as prohibiting the crossing of the center line in making a left turn into or from an alley, private road or driveway.

  7. A double solid yellow line means no overtaking or U Turn is normally allowed unless an exception is posted

  8. should say broken white lines re: lane seperator in same direction not just leave the choice as white lines too arbitrary / ambiguous.

    • Not really sure what white has to do with the above (yellow lines). However, traffic going in the same direction is separated by white lines. They can be broken, solid or double – not just broken.

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