Running a red light is one of the most common violations made by drivers every day. The fine is also one of the most expensive, surprise-surprise, and it can cost up to $500 for a first-time offense. Southern California is home to millions of traffic signals, and understanding the law is crucial.
The California Vehicle Code § 21453(a) Red-Light statute states:
“A driver facing a steady circular red signal alone shall stop at a marked limit line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection, and shall remain stopped until an indication to proceed is shown, except as provided in subdivision (b).”
This statute breaks down into three different parts.
1. “A driver facing a steady circular red signal.” There must be a solid red signal before you enter the intersection. Meaning, if the light is still transitioning from yellow to red when you enter the intersection, you are not in violation of this code section.
2. “… a marked limit line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection.” If the signal is red, you must stop at or before the marked line, and if there is no marked line, you must stop before you enter the intersection.
3. “… and shall remain stopped until an indication to proceed is shown, except as provided in subdivision (b).” Once stopped, you cannot move forward until directed to do so, usually with a green light. Subdivision (b) states that you can make a right turn or left turn on a one-way street after you stop when it can be done safely.
To be convicted of this statute, an officer must prove all three of these elements. That the light was a solid red, that your vehicle was behind the limit line, crosswalk or intersection before the light turned red and that your vehicle proceeded through the intersection while the light remained red. The California Legislature has deemed that the fine for this violation cannot be reduced by the Judge, which can be as high as $500. Because of multiple factors like the speed of your vehicle and an officer’s angle of observation, there can be a chance for errors.
Do not lose hope. If you have a red-light ticket, we understand the elements and can give you a fighting chance. Contact us at RPM Law, helping thousands of people protect their driving records and pockets every day.