Is it Legal to Run a Yellow Light in Texas?

According to Texas Transportation Code § 544.007(e), when approaching an intersection, a yellow light signifies that the green signal is being terminated or that a red signal will be exhibited immediately thereafter. Running a yellow light is legal in Texas, provided your vehicle fully clears the intersection before the light turns red. In layman’s terms, a yellow light is a warning that the light is about to turn red.

To “run a yellow light” is to choose to proceed through an intersection while the light is yellow and the driver had sufficient time to safely stop. While it is not explicitly illegal to fun a yellow light in Texas, if an accident occurs because a driver speeds up to run a yellow light, that driver may be held responsible for the accident.

Our accident attorneys strongly advise drivers not to run a yellow light, but rather to stop if it is safe to do so. The full responsibility of driving safely and making judicious decisions rests on the driver.

When Is It Legal to Proceed Through a Yellow Stop Light in Texas?

It is legal to run a yellow stop light in Texas under specific circumstances. Texas traffic laws stipulate that a driver may continue through the intersection if they are unable to stop safely without entering the intersection. However, drivers should always prioritize safety and err on the side of caution.

Let’s delve into the specifics as to when it is legal to run a yellow stop light:

  • Sufficient Distance:  If you’re too close to the intersection when the light changes from green to yellow, and you can’t safely stop your vehicle without crossing the stop line or entering the intersection, you may proceed with caution.
  • Speed and Safety:  It is legal to run a yellow light if your speed and the distance to the intersection make it unsafe to halt abruptly.
  • Flow of Traffic:  If stopping suddenly would potentially cause an accident or disrupt the flow of traffic, you may proceed through the yellow light.
  • Emergency Circumstances:  If there are emergency vehicles behind you or other uncommon situations that make stopping unsafe, you may run a yellow light.

Remember, the law doesn’t encourage or excuse reckless driving. The overarching rule is to stop on yellow if it’s safe to do so, or risk being cited as at fault for a car accident.

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What is the Penalty for Running a Yellow Light in Texas?

There are no specific penalties for running a yellow light in Texas. However, if you enter an intersection under a yellow light, your vehicle must fully clear the intersection before the light turns red to avoid a traffic violation.

Should the light change to red while any part of your vehicle is still within the intersection, you could be found in violation of Texas traffic laws for running a red light. Running a red light is a Class C misdemeanor (Texas Penal Code – PENAL § 12.23) accompanied by a fine, and typically a rise in auto insurance premiums.

What is the Fine for Running a Red Light in Texas?

In Texas, the fine for running a red light generally ranges from $75 to $200, depending on the municipality in which the violation occurred. However, these amounts can significantly increase with mandatory court costs and fees.

For example, as of 2023, the fine for running a red light in Dallas is a total of $296.10, or a $192 fine plus $104.10 in fees and court costs. By comparison, the total fine (plus fees and costs) for running a red light in other major Texas cities is $286 in Austin, $285 in San Antonio, $269 in Houston, $251 in Fort Worth, and $220 in El Paso.

Variations in the fine amount can occur due to multiple factors such as the city’s regulations, whether the violation caused an accident, and the driver’s previous traffic record. Although the legislation is statewide, local municipalities have some discretion in determining the amount of the fine, hence the variability.

Do Any States Have Laws Making it Illegal to Run a Yellow Light?

While state statutes may vary, running a yellow light is generally not prohibited in any US state, provided it is not safe to stop. However, drivers are always encouraged to slow down and prepare to stop when a signal turns yellow. Here are some examples of state laws related to running a yellow light:

  • California:  Under California Vehicle Code Section 21452, a yellow light means that the green phase is being terminated or a red signal will be exhibited immediately thereafter.
  • Florida:  According to Florida Statutes Section 316.075, drivers facing a steady yellow signal are warned that the related green movement is being terminated or a red indication will be exhibited immediately thereafter.
  • New York:  Under Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1111, a steady yellow light indicates that the related green movement is being terminated or a red signal will be exhibited immediately thereafter.
  • Illinois:  According to 625 ILCS 5/11-305, a steady yellow signal indicates that the related green movement is being terminated or a red signal will be exhibited immediately thereafter.
  • Washington:  Under RCW 46.61.055, drivers facing a steady yellow signal are warned that the related green movement is being terminated or a red indication will be exhibited immediately thereafter.

In general, drivers should always be prepared to stop and run a yellow light only if it is not safe to stop.

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If a Driver Running a Yellow Light Crashed into You, Call Our Injury Lawyers

Our team of skilled personal injury lawyers in Texas is dedicated to providing unwavering support and seeking justice for accident victims. We specifically handle cases where drivers have violated Texas traffic laws, such as recklessly running a yellow light. We take great pride in our impressive track record: In 2022 alone, we successfully secured 59 out of the top 100 motor vehicle accident injury settlements in Texas, as recognized by Top Verdict.

At our firm, we firmly believe that everyone deserves access to legal assistance. That’s why we offer FREE CONSULTATIONS for all prospective clients. Additionally, we operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning you won’t be charged any fees unless we win your case. In the unfortunate event that we’re unable to recover a settlement for your injury accident, you won’t owe us a penny. Our primary goal is to guide you through the complexities of your case and tirelessly fight to secure the compensation you rightfully deserve.

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What to Do if You Were Injured in an Accident Where a Driver Ran a Yellow Light?

If you were injured in an accident where a driver ran a yellow light, the following steps will guide you on what to do after an auto accident:

  1. Prioritize Safety:  Ensure everyone involved in the accident is safe. If anyone is severely injured, call 911 immediately.
  2. Report the Accident:  Contact the local law enforcement agency and report the accident. Make sure to mention that the other driver ran a yellow light.
  3. Gather Evidence:  Take pictures of the accident scene, including damage to vehicles, the traffic light, and any visible injuries. If there are any witnesses, obtain their contact information and statements.
  4. Seek Medical Attention:  Even if your injuries seem minor, it’s crucial to see a doctor. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent and may get worse if left untreated.
  5. Contact Your Insurance Company:  Report the accident to your insurance company. Provide them with as much information as possible, but avoid making speculative statements about who was at fault.
  6. Consult With Our Personal Injury Attorneys:  Seek the advice of our experienced personal injury attorneys who can guide you through the process and ensure your rights are protected.

Each of these steps is crucial to building a strong personal injury claim and helps ensure you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries and damages. Contact Thompson Law today.

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