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Ohio’s new red light law

A new law in Ohio allows drivers to go through red lights in certain circumstances when the light is not functioning properly. The legislature expanded Revised Code § 4511.132, which addressed operating a vehicle at an intersection with a malfunctioning traffic control signal light, to include situations where the traffic control light may be working, but the vehicle detector has failed to detect the presence of a vehicle.

The law does not establish a bright line rule for how long a motorist must wait before determining that his or her vehicle cannot be detected. It does, however, require the driver to do certain things prior to disregarding the red light, which are: (1) properly stop at the intersection before entering it; (2) yield the right of way to all approaching vehicles; and (3) exercise ordinary care while proceeding through the intersection. 

Drivers need to remember that this amendment does not open the door for them to wait a few seconds at a light and then go through the intersection. Most drivers will likely rarely, if ever, encounter a light with a malfunctioning vehicle detector. If they do come across this issue, though, they must remember to exercise caution and be safe. A driver could still be cited for a minor misdemeanor and/or be liable for any accident caused by disregarding the light if it turns out that the vehicle detector was working properly. 

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