Red Light and Stop Sign Tickets in New York

Learn about New York’s red light and stop sign laws and the consequences of a violation.

A New York driver who runs a stop sign or red light will likely have to pay a fine. A red light or stop sign violation will also add demerit points to a motorist’s driving record. This article gives an overview of what the law requires and prohibits and some of the consequences of being convicted of a stop sign or red light violation.

(Also, read about the options for dealing with a traffic citation.)

Making the Stop

When approaching a stop sign or red light (solid or flashing), a motorist must come to a complete stop before the nearest of entering the crosswalk at the closest side of the intersection, reaching a marked stop line, or entering the intersection itself.

Right-On-Red Rule

In New York City—and, generally, in other cities with a population of at least one million—motorists aren’t allowed to make a right turn at a red light unless a sign specifically says it’s okay. However, in cities of less than a million within the state, motorists can make a right turn at a red signal after coming to a complete stop and yielding the right-of-way to pedestrians and other vehicles lawfully using the intersection.

Left-on-Red Rule

In cities, including New York City, with populations of a million or more, a left on red is prohibited unless a sign is posted indicated the turn is allowed. In other cities, motorists can make a left turn after stopping at a red light only from a one-way street onto another one-way street, provided there’s no sign prohibiting such a turn. Of course, motorists have to follow right-of-way rules and proceed with caution when making the turn.

Meaning of a Yellow Light

Some states require drivers to stop at yellow lights, unless it’s unsafe to do so. In New York, however, a steady yellow light is just a warning that the light is about to turn red. In other words, so long as you enter the intersection before the signal turns red, you haven’t violated the law.

Red Light Cameras

A number of jurisdiction within New York State use automated cameras at intersections to catch red light violators. Generally, the owner of the vehicle is responsible for paying a red light camera ticket unless the operator did not have the owner’s permission to use the vehicle. The maximum fine for a red light camera ticket is $50, and the conviction won’t go on the driver’s record or affect insurance premiums.

(Read about how red light cameras work and fighting a red light camera ticket.)

Fines and Points for Violations

The fines for red light and stop sign violations depend on a number of factors, including where the violation occurred. But generally, a convicted motorist is looking at $50 to $300 in fines.

A stop sign or red light conviction will put three demerit points on a motorist’s driving record. Drivers who accumulate 11 or more points within an 18-month period face license suspension. However, motorists can get a four-point reduction by completing a “point and insurance reduction program” (PIRP) course.

And depending on the circumstances, a red light or stop sign violation could lead to a reckless driving conviction.

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