If you get caught running a stop sign or red light in Alabama, you'll likely face fines and demerit points on your driving record. (However, you may have other options, including fighting the ticket.) This article gives an overview of what the law prohibits and some specific consequences of a stop sign or red light violation.
At a red light (solid or flashing) or stop sign, motorists must make a complete stop at a clearly marked stop line or before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection. And if there is no stop line or crosswalk, the driver needs to stop before entering the intersection itself.
Alabama law allows motorists to make a right turn after stopping at a red light unless there's a sign indicating the turn is prohibited.
In Alabama, motorists are allowed to make a left turn from a one-way street onto another one-way street after stopping at a red light, so long as there's no sign prohibiting such a turn.
In Alabama, a steady yellow light is a warning that the light is about to turn red. In other words, you're allowed to enter an intersection while the light is still yellow. But if you enter the intersection after the light has turned red, you can be cited for running the light.
A number of jurisdictions within Alabama use automated cameras to cite drivers who run red lights. Cities with cameras generally must post signs in at least ten entry points to the city and at every intersection that uses red light cameras. The signs need to say something like, "Automated Cameras Used in Red Light Enforcement."
Motorists who get caught running a light by a red light camera will receive a notice of the violation in the mail. The notice is supposed to include the date, time, and location of the violation and copies of the photographs.
However, a driver might be able to beat the ticket by establishing a defense. The defenses include proving:
Drivers who want to fight their tickets typically must request a hearing in writing shortly after receiving notice of the violation.
Stop sign and red light violations are misdemeanors in Alabama. First offenders face up to $100 in fines and/or a maximum of ten days in jail. For a second offense within a year, the driver is looking at up to $200 in fines and/or a maximum 30 days jail time. And a third or subsequent violation within a year of the first ticket carries up to $500 in fines and/or a maximum three months in jail.
Alabama also imposes a variety of costs and assessment fees for every ticket that will substantially increase the amount the driver actually pays for a traffic ticket. In many cases, these additional costs and assessments end up substantially more than the fine.
A stop sign or red light violation will add three demerit points to a motorist's driving record. Accumulating 12 or more points within two years can lead to license suspension.
Depending on the situation, a red light or stop sign violation could also lead to a reckless driving conviction. And if one of these offenses results in the death of another person, homicide or manslaughter charges are another possibility.