Red Light and Stop Sign Tickets in Wisconsin

Learn about Wisconsin’s red light and stop sign laws and the costs of a violation.

If you get a stop sign or red light ticket in Wisconsin, you’ll likely have to pay a fine, and the conviction will add demerit points to your driving record. This article gives an overview of what the law requires 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 limit line, or entering the intersection itself.

Right-On-Red Rule

As long as there’s no sign specifically restricting it, Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin, 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 Light

In most states, a driver can’t be ticketed if his or her front tires cross the limit line prior to the signal turning red. However, the rule is different in Wisconsin: Motorist must stop at a yellow light except when the motorist is so close to the intersection when the light turns yellow that it’s unsafe to do so.

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, Wisconsin law permits persons using one of these modes of transportation to pass through a red light, provided they:

  • stop for at least 45 seconds
  • proceed with caution, and
  • yield the right of way to others using the intersection.

Points and Fines for a Ticket

The fines for a stop sign or stop light violation are:

  • $20 to $40 for a first offense within a year, and
  • $50 to $100 for a second or subsequent conviction within a year.

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

Depending on the circumstances, a red light or stop sign violation could lead to a reckless driving conviction. And drivers who run red signals or stop signs and cause the death of another person could face vehicular homicide charges.

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