When we drive we will more than likely come across multiple traffic lights during out commute. Prince William County is a large jurisdiction and has many streets and highways that are controlled by traffic signals and traffic tickets for disregarding a traffic signal are very common. In most cases it is a 4-point offense for DMV purposes and can impact insurance rates because disregarding a traffic light is a moving violation. If you wish to protect your driving record we recommend you reach out to us. We handle almost a thousand traffic tickets every year and offer a free consultation. Give us a call at 703-273-4100 or use the contact form below and we would be happy to speak to you.
§46.2-833: Traffic Signal Law
Virginia Code §46.2-833 governs the operation of traffic lights. This is the main code section used in Prince William County when a person is cited for going through a red light. In fact, the first paragraph of the statute is what prohibits going through a red light and does not list any exceptions.
In addition, as is common knowledge, traffic is required to move through a green light. However, the law does impose a duty of care to yield to those vehicles and pedestrians that are lawfully within the intersection. For example, if a pedestrian is crossing the street with a proper crossing signal, the driver at a green light must nevertheless wait for the pedestrian to cross.
Finally, an amber or yellow light requires a vehicle to stop unless it has already entered the intersection or crosswalk. However, the statute is a bit confusing because, for those vehicles not already in the intersection at yellow, they are required to stop if not reasonably safe to continue. How to define whether it is safe to continue through the yellow light can be difficult especially in split-second decisions. In our experience, most police officers don't ticket someone for going through a red light until they see a traffic light turn red, then wait a second or two, and then witness a vehicle going through what is now a red light.
§46.2-835: Right Turn on Red
Virginia Code §46.2-835 allows a right turn on red provided there is not a traffic control device prohibiting the turn. The law requires a vehicle to come to a complete stop and then cautiously enter the intersection and make the right turn. However, if there is a steady red arrow, the vehicle must stop and wait for the light to change before turning. It is also important to point out that any vehicles permitted to make a right turn on red must ultimately yield the right-of-way to any pedestrians lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk and to any traffic using the intersection.
Most right turn on red cases we see in Prince William County involve a "California stop" where the person slows down but doesn't fully stop before turning. As they approach the right turn they can see that no vehicles are approaching and there are no pedestrians in the area. Unfortunately, police officers will ticket vehicles that do this and it is a 3-point offense for DMV driving record purposes.
§46.2-836: Left Turn on Red
It is generally illegal to turn left at a red light under Virginia Code §46.2-836. However, there is an exception for cases where it is a one-way highway. In those cases a vehicle can actually turn left after coming to a complete stop and proceeding cautiously onto another one-way highway. As with other situations involving making a turn at a traffic signal, the turning vehicle must yield the right-of-way to any pedestrians lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk and to other traffic using the intersection. Like a right turn on red violation, making a left turn on red is a 3-point offense. We don't see left-turn on red violations as much in Prince William County but have handled these charges.
Hiring an Attorney for your Prince William County Traffic Signal Charge
Because of the DMV points and insurance issues, we understand that you may not wish to prepay your ticket. We handle traffic signal charges in all localities in Prince William County including Manassas Park, City of Manassas, Town of Occoquan, Town of Dumfries, and Town of Haymarket. We can appear for court on your behalf in many cases and resolve the case in your absence. During your free consultation we will discuss your options in either getting the charge reduced or, in certain cases, dismissed.