In Texas Is It Legal to Run a Red Light That Doesn’t Change?
So, I was leaving the radio station late one Friday night, and I get to the intersection right down the road and the light was red. I noticed a police officer in his police car in the parking lot beside the intersection. He was either watching for speeders, and red-light runners, or he was doing paperwork.
Nonetheless, the light remained red for a really long time. I gauge traffic lights by the length of songs we play here at the radio station. The song started and ended, which was about three and a half minutes long and we were well into song number two which was about a four-minute song and the light was still red. Note, there was no traffic anywhere it was after 10 PM.
Enough time had gone by that I was sure the light was not working properly or mister Po-Po had done something to see who would run a red light. I waited through one more song, and as fate would have it as I let off the brake to run the red light the police car that was sitting there turned on its lights and siren and took off in the opposite direction.
Lucky me, I guess I got a pass this time as I went through the intersection with no one around. So I said to myself "what is the law about running a red light that's not working right?" First off, the timing of how long a light is supposed to last? The answer is, it depends on the intersection, and time of day but is no less than 30 seconds and could go up to 90 seconds or longer depending on various factors.
What is the Texas law for running a red light? Texas Transportation Code § 544.004 covers traffic control lights. It reads as follows: (a)The operator of a vehicle or streetcar shall comply with an applicable official traffic-control device placed as provided by this subtitle unless the person is: (1) otherwise directed by a traffic or police officer; or
(2) operating an authorized emergency vehicle and is subject to exceptions under this subtitle. Thus, if the light is red, a driver has a legal duty to stop. Additionally: Texas Transportation Code § 544.007(d) says: The law states that a driver must stop at a steady red signal. They must remain stopped until they have an indication to proceed. Running a red light is a Class C misdemeanor in the State of Texas. Source: Statutes.Capitol.Texas.gov
The peace officer I called and asked said that "being issued a ticket for running a red light in this instance will depend on the officer's assessment of the traffic and the traffic violation and yes it is a ticketable offense."
However, if the light does not change then assume the same procedure as if it were a full-on stop sign. First, come to a complete stop. Then check for any oncoming traffic and if it is completely safe, proceed through the intersection keeping your eyes open for any other traffic that may be coming.
Doing all that will allow you to run the light because you are doing it due to the fact that it's a faulty traffic light. Frozen red lights happen but you must assess the situation, and when you get to where you are going call and report the failing light.