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Thanks to Tony Bizak's Back-seat Driver articles, we can pass along important driver information to you.  Also, if you will be taking your DMV written test, study online from our website.  Just click on the DMV 2011 Driver Handbook found under our Main Menu, Insurance Company Link.

Welcome back to "Hey Wait! Is That Legal?" where our experts tell it like it is, and everyone drives safely away, a winner!

How far are you allowed to drive in a "suicide" or center turn lane? I stop, signal, and wait to merge, but I see cars keep driving and force themselves into traffic.
– Blair Weimer, Orangevale

Here's what police say: You're allowed to drive 200 feet in a suicide lane – that's less than a city block. Once you pull in from a side street, it's OK to continue driving in the lane to merge more easily into adjacent flowing traffic.

Police say that despite their name, "suicide" lanes are no more dangerous than other lanes.

Are you supposed to signal a left turn if you are in a designated left-turn "pocket" lane at an intersection? We turn our blinker off, figuring other drivers can see we are in a turn lane.
– John, Sacramento

You should signal any time your turn movement may affect another vehicle, Sacramento police traffic Detective Jim Anderson points out. You have to signal to get into the pocket lane in the first place. But if you are stopped in that turn lane at a long red light, you're OK turning the blinker off, as long as you turn it back on before you get going, Anderson says.

State law requires vehicles to have front license plates, but some don't. Is there some local ordinance I'm not aware of?
– "Box Frog," Rocklin

Nope. But some new sports models come with sleek-looking bumper covers that must be popped off to attach the license plate. And some drivers like the look of their car without a clunky license plate, so they "postpone" adding the plate.

I've seen motorcyclists park on sidewalks and share parking spots with cars. Is that legal?
– Darren, Sacramento

City officials say it is always illegal for motorcycles or scooters to park on sidewalks or adjacent green spaces. But motorcycles are allowed to share parking spots with cars, as long as the motorcycle is parked entirely within the L-bracket painted on the street. The parking meter has to be fed, even if the car has a disabled placard. For free motorcycle parking sites in Sac, go to and click on "rates & map," then "discount programs."

If a car registration is expired, do insurance companies cancel the policy? I can't imagine insuring a car without valid registration.
– Nick Buttino, Elk Grove

We couldn't either, but we're wrong, according to state insurance industry spokesman Tully Lehman. "If someone doesn't have registration, but gets in a crash, their insurance will cover it," he said. Their insurance rates may rise, but mainly because of the crash.

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Contact Us today for your insurance needs!  (800) 807-6871.  The Cliff Cottam Insurance Services team. 

Posted 5:39 PM

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Pattison said...
"Heres what police say: Youre allowed to drive 200 feet in a suicide lane..."
I wonder what law theyre using to make this determination, because the only reference I can find to "200 feet" in the CVC is in 21662(b):
"If the roadway has insufficient width to permit a motor vehicle to be driven entirely to the right of the center of the roadway, the driver shall give audible warning with the horn of the motor vehicle upon approaching any curve where the view is obstructed within a distance of 200 feet along the highway."
At no point in any of the CVC sections that refer to driving in the center lane or "suicide lane" does it reference a specific distance.

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