Is It Illegal to Cut Through a Parking Lot to Avoid a Red Light?

Traffic tickets for evading a red signal.

Chances are you've had the experience of waiting at a red light when you notice you could save some time by cutting through the gas station on the corner. But is it legal to bypass a traffic signal this way?

Most states don’t have laws that specifically prohibit evading a traffic light. However, in a handful of states—including Arizona, Florida, Virginia, and New Jersey—maneuvering around a red light can get you ticketed.

Avoiding or Evading a Traffic Control Device

Laws that prohibit drivers from avoiding or evading a traffic signal differ by state. Some states make it illegal to cross private property to avoid a red light, while others prohibit leaving the roadway (regardless of whether it’s through public or private property) to evade a signal. There are also state laws that say you can’t pass through a “parking area” to avoid a light.

Penalties

Avoiding or evading a traffic control signal is a regular moving violation. So, convicted drivers are typically looking at a fine and demerit points on their driving record. Fines for a violation generally range from about $50 to $250, depending on where you receive the ticket.

However, eligible drivers might be able to avoid the points and save some money by completing traffic school.

(Also, read about your other options for dealing with a traffic ticket.)

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