Red Light and Stop Sign Tickets in Virginia

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

If you get a stop sign or red light ticket in Virginia, you’ll likely be looking at having to pay a fine and demerit points being assessed to your driving record. This article gives an overview of what the law prohibits and some of the consequences of a stop sign or red light violation.

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

Making the Stop

Motorists approaching a stop sign or a signal exhibiting a red light (solid or flashing) generally must come to a complete stop prior to the nearest of entering the crosswalk, reaching a clearly marked stop line, or entering the intersection itself.

Right-On-Red Rule

As long as there’s no sign specifically restricting it, Virginia law permits drivers to make a right turn after stopping at a red light. However, drivers need to use caution and follow the normal right-of-way rules when making the turn.

Left-on-Red Rule

Some states don’t allow left turns on red, regardless of the circumstances. However, in Virginia, drivers are permitted to turn left after stopping at a red light at the intersection of two one-way streets. In other words, a motorist can make a left on red from a one-way street onto another one-way street.

Meaning of a Yellow or Amber Light

In Virginia, an amber or yellow light indicates that a change is about to be made in the direction of the moving of traffic. When an amber light is shown, traffic that has not yet entered the intersection must stop if it's not reasonably safe to continue. Traffic that has already entered the intersection should continue to pass through.

Special Rules for Motorcycles, Mopeds, and Bikes

Some signals use sensors that detect when motorists are waiting at the light. These sensors trigger the signal to switch only if a vehicle is detected. However, because of their small size, motorbikes and bicycles often aren’t detected by the sensor. So, Virginia law permits persons using one of these modes of transportation to pass through a red light provided they:

  • first come to a complete stop
  • wait the shorter of two complete cycles or two minutes
  • exercise due care and proceed only when safe to do so
  • treat the signal as a stop sign, and
  • yield the right of way to other vehicles passing through the intersection.

Red Light Cameras

Virginia law allows jurisdictions within the state to 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. However, an owner can establish a defense by filing an affidavit with the court stating that he or she was not operating the vehicle at the time of the violation or by presenting a certified police report showing the car had been stolen.

The maximum fine for a red light camera citation is $50. Red light camera tickets don’t go on a person’s driving record and won’t affect insurance rates.

(Also, read about how red light cameras work and fighting a red light camera ticket.)

Fines and Points for Violations

Stop sign and red light violations are traffic infractions in Virginia. A red light ticket carries a maximum fine of $350, whereas the maximum fine for a stop sign citation is $250. However, convicted motorist are typically fined $101 for a red light citation and $88 for a stop sign ticket.

A stop sign or red light conviction will also add demerit points to a motorist’s driving record. A driver who accumulates too many points faces license suspension. However, eligible motorists can get a five-point reduction by completing a driver improvement clinic.

Depending on the circumstances, a red light or stop sign violation could lead to a reckless driving conviction. And a driver who runs a red signal or stop sign while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and causes the death of another person could face vehicular manslaughter charges.

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