Red Light Violation

In North Carolina the traffic rules regarding Stop Lights are governed by §20-158. This is the same statute that governs stop sign tickets.  The statute governs all types
of different violations regarding traffic control devices including right turn on red, yielding to pedestrians and flashing red lights, but the most common violation of the traffic control devices is the violation we all know as:“running a red light”. Red Light violations are second only to Charlotte speeding tickets in terms of tickets handled by our Charlotte traffic ticket attorneys.

While North Carolina does allow a person to turn right-on-red, it is prohibited by signage at some intersections.  Many of our clients are curious as to the legality of going through a yellow light. The statute forbids entering the intersection during a red light, but allows for entering the intersection while the light is yellow. There are ways to fight these tickets, but there are also alternative dispositions that can carry less risk than a trial. A conviction carries three driver’s license points and an insurance point. In order to avoid these and other potential negative consequences please call a traffic ticket attorney at Rosensteel Fleishman, PLLC.

 

The full
Statute is available below:

§ 20‑158.
Vehicle control signs and signals.

(a)
The Department of Transportation, with reference to State highways, and local
authorities, with reference to highways under their jurisdiction, are hereby
authorized to control vehicles:

(1) At
intersections, by erecting or installing stop signs requiring vehicles to come
to a complete stop at the entrance to that portion of the intersection
designated as the main traveled or through highway. Stop signs may also be
erected at three or more entrances to an intersection.

(2) At
appropriate places other than intersections, by erecting or installing stop
signs requiring vehicles to come to a complete stop.

(3) At
intersections and other appropriate places, by erecting or installing steady‑beam
traffic signals and other traffic control devices, signs, or signals. All
steady‑beam traffic signals emitting alternate red and green lights shall be
arranged so that the red light in vertical‑arranged signal faces shall appear
above, and in horizontal‑arranged signal faces shall appear to the left of all
yellow and green lights.

(4) At
intersections and other appropriate places, by erecting or installing flashing
red or yellow lights.

(b)
Control of Vehicles at Intersections. –

(1)
When a stop sign has been erected or installed at an intersection, it shall be
unlawful for the driver of any vehicle to fail to stop in obedience thereto and
yield the right‑of‑way to vehicles operating on the designated main‑traveled or
through highway. When stop signs have been erected at three or more entrances
to an intersection, the driver, after stopping in obedience thereto, may
proceed with caution.

(2) a. When a traffic signal is emitting a steady
red circular light controlling traffic approaching an intersection, an
approaching vehicle facing the red light shall come to a stop and shall not
enter the intersection. After coming to a complete stop and unless prohibited
by an appropriate sign, that approaching vehicle may make a right turn.

b. Any
vehicle that turns right under this subdivision shall yield the right‑of‑way
to:

1.
Other traffic and pedestrians using the intersection; and

2.
Pedestrians who are moving towards the intersection, who are in reasonably
close proximity to the intersection, and who are preparing to cross in front of
the traffic that is required to stop at the red light.

c.
Failure to yield to a pedestrian under this subdivision shall be an infraction,
and the court may assess a penalty of not more than five hundred dollars
($500.00) and not less than one hundred dollars ($100.00).

d. The
Department of Transportation shall collect data regarding the number of
individuals who are found responsible for violations of sub‑subdivision b. of
this subdivision and the number of pedestrians who are involved in accidents at
intersections because of a driver’s failure to yield the right‑of‑way while
turning right at a red light. The data shall include information regarding the
number of disabled pedestrians, including individuals with visual or mobility‑related
disabilities, who are involved in right turn on red accidents. The Department
shall report the data annually to the Joint Legislative Transportation
Oversight Committee beginning January 1, 2006.

(2a)
When a traffic signal is emitting a steady yellow circular light on a traffic
signal controlling traffic approaching an intersection or a steady yellow arrow
light on a traffic signal controlling traffic turning at an intersection,
vehicles facing the yellow light are warned that the related green light is
being terminated or a red light will be immediately forthcoming. When the
traffic signal is emitting a steady green light, vehicles may proceed with due
care through the intersection subject to the rights of pedestrians and other
vehicles as may otherwise be provided by law.

(3)
When a flashing red light has been erected or installed at an intersection,
approaching vehicles facing the red light shall stop and yield the right‑of‑way
to vehicles in or approaching the intersection. The right to proceed shall be
subject to the rules applicable to making a stop at a stop sign.

(4)
When a flashing yellow light has been erected or installed at an intersection,
approaching vehicles facing the yellow flashing light may proceed through the
intersection with caution, yielding the right‑of‑way to vehicles in or
approaching the intersection.

(5)
When a stop sign, traffic signal, flashing light, or other traffic‑control
device authorized by subsection (a) of this section requires a vehicle to stop
at an intersection, the driver shall stop (i) at an appropriately marked stop
line, or if none, (ii) before entering a marked crosswalk, or if none, (iii)
before entering the intersection at the point nearest the intersecting street
where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting street.

(6)
When a traffic signal is not illuminated due to a power outage or other
malfunction, vehicles shall approach the intersection and proceed through the
intersection as though such intersection is controlled by a stop sign on all
approaches to the intersection. This subdivision shall not apply if the
movement of traffic at the intersection is being directed by a law enforcement
officer, another authorized person, or another type of traffic control device.

(c)
Control of Vehicles at Places other than Intersections. –

(1)
When a stop sign has been erected or installed at a place other than an
intersection, it shall be unlawful for the driver of any vehicle to fail to
stop in obedience thereto and yield the right‑of‑way to pedestrians and other
vehicles.

(2)
When a traffic signal has been erected or installed at a place other than an
intersection, and is emitting a steady red light, vehicles facing the red light
shall come to a complete stop. When the traffic signal is emitting a steady
yellow light, vehicles facing the light shall be warned that a red light will
be immediately forthcoming and that vehicles may not proceed through such a red
light. When the traffic signal is emitting a steady green light, vehicles may
proceed subject to the rights of pedestrians and other vehicles as may
otherwise be provided by law.

(3)
When a flashing red light has been erected or installed at a place other than
an intersection, approaching vehicles facing the light shall stop and yield the
right‑of‑way to pedestrians or other vehicles.

(4)
When a flashing yellow light has been erected or installed at a place other
than an intersection, approaching vehicles facing the light may proceed with
caution, yielding the right‑of‑way to pedestrians and other vehicles.

(5)
When a traffic signal, stop sign, or other traffic control device authorized by
subsection (a) requires a vehicle to stop at a place other than an
intersection, the driver shall stop at an appropriately marked stop line, or if
none, before entering a marked crosswalk, or if none, before proceeding past
the traffic control device.

(d)
No failure to stop as required by the provisions of this section shall be
considered negligence or contributory negligence per se in any action at law
for injury to person or property, but the facts relating to such failure to
stop may be considered with the other facts in the case in determining whether
a party was guilty of negligence or contributory negligence.

(e)
Defense. – It shall be a defense to a violation of sub‑subdivision (b)(2)a. of
this section if the operator of a motorcycle, as defined in G.S. 20‑4.01(27)d.,
shows all of the following:

(1)
The operator brought the motorcycle to a complete stop at the intersection or
stop bar where a steady red light was being emitted in the direction of the
operator.

(2)
The intersection is controlled by a vehicle actuated traffic signal using an
inductive loop to activate the traffic signal.

(3) No
other vehicle that was entitled to have the right‑of‑way under applicable law
was sitting at, traveling through, or approaching the intersection.

(4) No
pedestrians were attempting to cross at or near the intersection.

(5)
The motorcycle operator who received the citation waited a minimum of three
minutes at the intersection or stop bar where the steady red light was being
emitted in the direction of the operator before entering the intersection. (1937, c. 407, s.
120; 1941, c. 83; 1949, c. 583, s. 2; 1955, c. 384, s. 1; c. 913, s. 7; 1957,
c. 65, s. 11; 1973, c. 507, s. 5; c. 1191; c. 1330, s. 22; 1975, c. 1; 1977, c.
464, s. 34; 1979, c. 298, s. 1; 1989, c. 285; 2004‑141, ss. 1, 2; 2004‑172, s.
2; 2006‑264, s. 6; 2007‑260, s. 1; 2007‑360, ss. 2, 3.)