What is Considered Running a Red Light?

Running a red light is a common, although accidental occurrence for many drivers. Most drivers will probably admit to running a red light at some point during their lives.

Although an accident for most people, running a red light can have dangerous and serious repercussions if you are caught.

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What is considered running a red light?

By running a red light, you can either be caught by a camera, by the police, or even cause an accident with other drivers on the road. Additionally, you can get a ticket, receive a citation or even encounter legal repercussions.

So what is considered running a red light, and what happens if you do?

What does running a red light mean?

Despite the term being ‘running a red light’ you will not be running past a red light, but driving through the red light. In its most basic sense, running a red light simply means that you have driven through an intersection, once the traffic lights have turned to red. 

The same applies for pedestrian crossings, or any other kinds of red lights. We all know that green means go, and red means stop. Therefore, running a stop sign simply means to go through the light when you should have stopped.

What is considered running a red light?

The basic definition of running a red light, is where a vehicle enters an intersection at any time after the signal light has changed to red, and this is actually a violation.

Many drivers will see a green light start turning to yellow, and they will speed up to catch the light in time before it turns red. Surprise surprise, yellow means slow down, and not speed up. However, this is not the most common practice. 

Most people will speed up in order to get to their destination quicker, or because slowing to a stop would mean braking too harshly or risking damage to their vehicle. In other situations, drivers may keep going instead of braking for the light because of water on the road surface, and they risk aquaplaning. For whatever the reason, if the light has turned to red, then it would be considered running a red light. 

Despite all of the factors above, and whether running the light was for a safety reason, or a better judgement of the situation, the driver may receive a red light violation, or a ticket as this is against the law. However, this does not exactly mean that they were in the wrong.

If you are unsure whether you have run a red light or not, then you may be wondering what is exactly considered running a red light? 

The golden rule to follow is that the driver and the vehicle is completely past the white stop bar when the light has turned from yellow to red, then they will probably not be cited or caught.

However, it is important to remember that the vehicle would have to be completely past the white line when the light changes for it not to be considered a traffic violation. If you choose to pass the white line after the light has changed to red, then it would be a violation, and you will be cited.

In addition to this, there are some locations that permit turning on a red light, as long as the area is clear. In these situations, drivers still have to come to a stop before being permitted to turn. If drivers do not stop to assess the situation, then this will also be a red light violation.

If you have already entered the intersection and are waiting to turn, and then the light changes to red, you are not running a red light.

How does anyone know if you run a red light?

You may be wondering if anyone would catch you in the circumstance that you run a red light.

In some cases, running a red light can lead to traffic collisions, a car wreck or even a serious accident. This is why it is vital that you use your judgement and be very cautious when driving through a red light, or when the light turns from green to yellow. 

In some states and intersections, there will be police officers nearby that can also catch you running a red light, and if caught you will be cited and handed a ticket. These tickets can range anywhere from $50 up to $200 depending on the situation. 

In addition, you may be caught running a red light by a red light camera at the top of the traffic lights. This could also result in a fine, or even points on your license.

However, the red light ticketing cameras will automatically trace the violation to the owner of the vehicle, not the actual driver, and so you may be able to fight this if you were not the offender. 

What happens if you run a red light?

If there are no police cars nearby, there is no accident, or no cameras on the red light, then nothing will happen. If you are caught running a red light, then you will be cited by a police officer, given a ticket, or even given points for your license depending on your personal situation, and whether you have previous convictions. 

In most cases, a red light camera will catch you running the red light, and the information will be passed onto the DMV where the footage will be checked for a violation. If you have committed the red light violation, then you will receive a ticket via the post. These fines can vary from $50 per occurrence, whereas some can even be over $100. 

In many states, a red light camera citation will be treated as a civil offense rather than a moving violation. This means that driver license points are very rarely implicated, however in some states your insurance may be affected.

In most states, red light cameras deal with these tickets much like parking citations, and the ticket will go to the registered vehicle owner, rather than the person responsible, and so the ticket can be contested.