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What you need to know about Ohio’s new red light law

Published: Wednesday, January 04, 2017 @ 5:51 AM

A new law allows drivers to drive through a red light if the signal is malfunctioning, and after yielding to other traffic. But officials warn that city traffic laws may not allow the running of red lights at all.

A new state law says drivers can go through red lights under certain situations, but police are cautioning motorists.

The new state law allows drivers to go through red lights if the light isn’t working properly and only if the intersection is clear of oncoming traffic. Police said drivers still need to stop and they can’t just drive through a red light because they are in a hurry.

“This is about safety,” said Kettering police officer John Jung. “We don’t want the driver to approach a red light, wait for a couple of seconds and determine that it is malfunctioning and then blow through a red light. You still have to proceed with caution.”

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Jung added that city traffic laws are not always the same as state laws, so driver need to make sure the law applies to where they live. 

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If a driver does go through a red light, they have the burden to prove it was malfunctioning. 

“If they cause a traffic accident and it turns out the light was working properly, they will be the at-fault driver,” Jung said.

Driving instructors said the new law has caused some confusion, with instructors needing to tell new drivers this isn’t a free pass to run every light.

“This isn’t going to be an every day occurrence,” said D&D Driving School Training Manager Brent Praeter. “This isn’t something they need to do commonly at intersections when the light is red and feel like they have been sitting for too long.”

If a motorist does come across a light that isn’t working, they should call police.