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Failure to Observe a Traffic Signal

Failure to Observe a Traffic Signal, commonly referred to as a “red light” ticket, is among the most common charge issued to New Jersey drivers.  The familiar colors of red, yellow and green are known throughout the world as universal driving instructions.  However, application of this law is not so simple.  An experienced New Jersey red light ticket attorney can help explain the law and the process.

New Jersey statute 39:4-105 provides:

Traffic signals or signal devices shall conform strictly with the provisions of this article.

A three-color system shall be used; red, amber and green. Green means permission for traffic to go, subject to the safety of others or the specific directions of an officer, official sign or special signal. Red means traffic to stop before entering the intersection or crosswalk and remain standing until green is shown alone, unless otherwise specifically directed to go by an officer, official sign or special signal. Amber, or yellow, when shown alone following green means traffic to stop before entering the intersection or nearest crosswalk, unless when the amber appears the vehicle or street car is so close to the intersection that with suitable brakes it cannot be stopped in safety. A distance of fifty feet from the intersection is considered a safe stopping distance for a speed of twenty miles per hour, and vehicles and street cars if within that distance when the amber appears alone, and which cannot be stopped with safety, may proceed across the intersection or make a right or left turn unless the turning movement is specifically limited.

All other uses of green, red, amber or yellow lights so located as to be confused with traffic signals shall be discontinued.

We have all heard, and perhaps made, the most common defense to this ticket: “the light was yellow!”  However, this is not a defense.  In New Jersey, drivers approaching a yellow light have an obligation to stop before entering the intersection.  Most drivers mistakenly believe that they have a right to proceed through a yellow light so long as they do so before the light turns red.  This is incorrect.  Simply put, yellow means stop.  One narrow exception allows motorists to proceed through if stopping would be unsafe.

Conviction under this statute can result in fines, court costs and two points.  If you are charged with Failure to Observe a Traffic Control device, contact our office for a free consultation.  As in all cases, it is important to have an experienced lawyer on your side.

 

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