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Can You Drive Through a Yellow Light In Michigan?

MCL 257.612 lays out very clear directions on how motorists should behave at traffic control signals, even in situations where the driver thinks he or she can "beat the light".

  • If the signal is a green light, vehicular traffic facing the signal can drive straight, turn left or turn right at the intersection unless a sign prohibits the turn. However, all vehicular traffic must yield to vehicles, bicycles or pedestrians that are already lawfully in the intersection at the time the signal changed to green. MCL 257.612(1)(a).
  • If the signal is a steady yellow light, "vehicular traffic facing the signal shall stop before entering the nearest crosswalk at the intersection or at a limit line when marked, but if the stop cannot be made in safety, a vehicle may be driven cautiously through the intersection." To sum up the law, a vehicle MUST stop at a yellow traffic light unless the circumstances make stopping at this signal unsafe. Even if the driver passes through the yellow light and clears the intersection beforethe red light, there is still a violation. MCL 257.612(1)(b).
  • If the signal is a steady red light, vehicular traffic must stop before entering the intersection and shall remain there until the light turns green. However, vehicular traffic facing a steady red light, after stopping before the intersection, may make a right turn OR left turn "from a 1-way or 2-way street into a 2-way street or into a 1-way street" carrying traffic in the same direction unless there is a sign, signal, marking, light or other traffic control device prohibiting that turn. Vehicular traffic must yield to pedestrians and bicyclists lawfully in the intersection before performing this turn. MCL 257.612(1)(c).

It is a violation of the Michigan Vehicle Code to enter an intersection on a red light, turn left or right at a red light without stopping, driving through a yellow light or otherwise disobey a traffic signal. The penalty for violating MCL 257.612 is a civil infraction punishable by a fine and three points added to your Michigan driving record. It should be noted that points remain on your record for two years from the date of conviction.

If you are charged with disobeying a traffic signal or any other motor vehicle offense, do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC for help with your legal matter today.

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