Is A Right Turn On Red Legal? It Depends

When it comes to heavily disputed traffic violations, one of the greatest ones would have to be — whether or not it's legal to turn right at a red light. If you're looking for a solid answer to the rule, you won't find one because the answer always depends on several factors. 

Local laws are important, as some states have across-the-board bans on red light turns, and others restrict this practice in certain zones. However, just because red light turns are legal in your state, it doesn't mean you can legally turn. Learn when the law might not be on your side.

Complete Stop

Even if the law allows for these turns, drivers must always come to a complete stop before making the turn. When you turn on red, it's highly likely that there are vehicles traveling in the same direction in which you are turning. If you do not come to a complete stop, you also cannot ensure that the path is clear. If an officer handed you a citation, your failure to come to a complete stop could be the reason why.


Again, regardless of the law concerning red light right turns, pedestrians always have the right of way. If you approach a red light, and there are no vehicles coming your way, but there is a pedestrian walking across the street you cannot turn. Keep in mind; the rule even applies if you can make your turn long before the pedestrian makes their way to your side of the road. As long as the pedestrian has their foot on the street, you cannot turn.  

Traffic Blocking

You might be cited for an illegal turn on red if you block traffic. Consider an instance of heavy traffic, for example. If traffic is congested, and a vehicle makes a right turn, their vehicle could block the intersection and prevent vehicles on the opposite side of the street from turning, which could result in a temporary traffic jam. If an officer sees a driver behave in this manner, they have the right to give the driver a ticket for an illegal turn and blocking an intersection. 

If none of these elements were present in your case, you can fight. Although a citation for turning on red might seem minor, it's still a moving violation. Moving violations come along with fees and can end up on your driving record. An attorney can help you fight.

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