All drivers, whether a truck mechanic, a Tesla owner, or a public utility driver, have one main priority when hitting the road: to ensure that everyone arrives at their destination safe and sound. When you get your driver's license, you immediately shoulder that responsibility along with a thousand other drivers. To maintain road safety, however, is a tough challenge. That is why traffic rules are imposed to help prevent drivers from crashing into each other. However, these rules are not sufficient on its own to ensure everyone's safety on the road. Drivers must follow them at all costs. But despite the strict regulations and enforcement, there are simply those who refuse to acknowledge their responsibility as drivers and put everyone's life and safety at risk for the sake of their own satisfaction. Meanwhile, one of the most typical traffic offenses that these types of drivers commit is running a red light.
Before we get any further, let us first understand the standards that law enforcement base on for plausible red light violations. According to California Vehicle Code 21453, all vehicle operators are not allowed to cross an intersection once the traffic light goes red and the driver has ample time to hit the breaks at the marked boundary. However, there are still exemptions to this rule, such as:
- Turning right following a stop at a circular red light given that there were no placards posted to prohibit such action; and
- Turning left following a stop at a circular red light given that it is a one-way street.
In the same vein, red arrow lights are not covered under this exemption. If a police officer sees your vehicle turning right at a steady arrow signal, the officer may pull you over and issue a red light ticket to you. Furthermore, pedestrians have the right of way in both situations mentioned above. If you turn left and refuse to stop even when someone is crossing the road using the pedestrian lane, you may also be cited under this law. Further complications with the law will follow suit if you happen to hit the pedestrian and injure them.
Meanwhile, stop light tickets are usually issued under either two reasons:
- A cop or a traffic unit personally witnessed you run the red light;
- You were caught by the red light camera by the time you ran the stop light.
Whichever way that is, a person caught disobeying the red light rules will receive a ticket. In the process, however, you will be asked to sign a written promise to appear before the magistrate for your scheduled court hearing. If you refuse to sign it, the officer may arrest you on the spot. So, it is best to sign it and attend your court date. Keep in mind that signing a traffic ticket does not denote that you are admitting to violating a traffic rule; rather, it is simply a pledge to pay the fines or appear in court to defend your case. Failure to appear on your scheduled court hearing is a violation of California Vehicle Code 40508, a statute we have covered for further information.
Punishments for Running a Red Light
Ignoring the red light, in its simplest form, is merely an infraction where the defendant will not be facing any jail sentence, but instead, will be mandated to pay the necessary fines. The minimum fines under this law are:
- $100 for violating red light rules;
- $35 for making an unlawful right or left turn at a stop light.
These may seem insignificant, but these are only minimum fines -- it can go as high as $450-$500 for a simple red light offense. In fact, the average that courts issue for red light violations is $250, one of the most expensive in America. Furthermore, penalties include:
- Obtaining 1pt on their DMV driving record
- Going to traffic school
Seek Legal Assistance from California Defense Lawyers
It is possible that red light citations are issued under false information and the fault usually lies on the police officer. If so, you are highly encouraged to attend your court hearing and defend the allegations. However, one of the most effective and proven ways to increase the possibility of you winning your case and eliminating the fines is by hiring a defense attorney to represent you. Contact one today to discuss possible defenses that you may use on the day of your court hearing.
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