California Vehicle Code § 21453
When you hear red light camera ticket the first thing you think is “Ugggh”.
They are surrounded by a ton of myths and conflicting information which we will try to clear up in this article.
California leads the nation in red light camera intersection and fine amounts. In excess of $490 these alleged violations are a headache and extremely costly.
Red light camera violations are a valid form of citation.
The circumstances surrounding the legality are questionable and can be challenged during a trial but you must bring the violation to trial to have it dismissed.
Do Not Ignore Red Light Camera Violations
Some individuals think they can ignore red light camera violations which only leads to elevated fines and collection activities.
Not a good idea, don’t try it. We receive calls every day from people who ignored the violation and have been sent to collections, not a good look. It’s always better to deal with it right away. You should fight the ticket and beat the alleged violation.
Third, most red light camera violations are issued through a third-party out-of-state camera company (Redflex). In the last couple of years, a tidal wave of municipalities have voted out the camera and chosen not to renew the contracts.
With that being said more than 1,000 red light cameras are still operating in California and local law enforcement has started to test stop sign cameras in rural areas like the Santa Monica mountain range in Los Angeles.
A full stop is required at every intersection. Red light camera intersections have sensors embedded in the pavement to measure the length of the stop to ensure maximum enforcement.
These intersections are calibrated with a “no tolerance” approach and even the slightest deviation from a full stop can trigger the cameras.
Everyone has been there once or twice in their life, you see the light and think “oh I can make it, I have plenty of time”. Or you approach an intersection, no one around and you just slide on thru “California style”. These are all common driving techniques regularly used here in California but are in violation of CVC 21453.
Don’t believe the Hype “California Stops” are still illegal
Section § 21453 of the California Vehicle Code creates three rules for drivers. All of those rules govern a driver’s response to red traffic signals.
Circular red light
A “steady circular red light” means a red light that is round (as opposed to, for instance, a red light in the shape of an arrow) and not blinking. A driver who encounters a “steady circular red light” must stop:
- at or before the line marked on the road, if there is one, or
- before entering a marked crosswalk, if there is no designated line, or
- before entering the intersection, if there is no designated line or marked crosswalk.
The driver must remain stopped until the light changes to green or amber.
Right Turn on Red (California Roll)
After stopping at a “steady circular red light,” a driver in California can make a right turn unless a posted sign prohibits right turns on red.
The turning driver must yield to pedestrians in both the crosswalk on the street from which the turn is made and the crosswalk on the street the driver is entering. The driver must also yield to oncoming traffic if it would be unsafe to turn in front of an oncoming vehicle.
Subject to the same requirement of yielding to pedestrians and traffic, a driver can make a left turn after stopping at a “steady circular red light,” but only if the driver is turning from a one-way street onto a one-way street.
Most “right turn on red” tickets are based on the claim that the driver did not come to a complete stop before making the turn
Unless the turn was completely ridiculous, whether the turn was safe is usually a matter of opinion. Our traffic ticket experts have over 50 years of combined experience and are able to exploit ambiguous facts when fighting for dismissal of the alleged ticket.
Solid Red Arrow Explained
A driver who encounters a “steady red arrow” (meaning a red arrow that is not blinking) cannot legally turn in the direction that the arrow is pointing while the steady red arrow continues to be illuminated.
For example, if you are in a left turn lane, you cannot turn left even if there is no oncoming traffic as long as a steady red arrow controlling the turn lane is pointing to the left.
A driver facing a steady red arrow cannot enter the intersection to wait for the arrow to change but must stop as if stopping for a red light. That means the driver must stop behind a stop line painted on the road, before entering a crosswalk, or before entering an intersection.
The defenses noted above that apply to “steady circular red light” violations also apply equally when the driver contests a red arrow violation. A traffic ticket expert can help raise those defenses in efforts of seeking dismissal of the alleged violation.