Yellow light

Ask The Traffic School Instructor: Is it legal to turn left on a yellow light or not?

Question: I got a ticket for turning left on a yellow light; isn’t it legal to turn on a yellow light?

Answer: OK, this one gets a bit tricky and to explain it we first have to understand the concept of a “fresh or stale yellow light.” You can get a ticket for running a yellow light if you had time to stop safely. When an officer sees you making a turn on a yellow light, he or she will first determine whether or not you a fresh or stale yellow light.

Let’s say you were the first driver in the intersection when the light turned green and you pulled out into the intersection to turn but oncoming traffic prevented you from turning safely and you couldn’t make your turn until the light turned yellow and oncoming traffic had stopped. In that case, you turned on a “fresh yellow light.”

Now, let’s say you were the second or third driver in line and couldn’t pull out into the intersection because the driver ahead was blocked from turning by oncoming traffic. If you didn’t enter the intersection until the light was about to or had already turned yellow,  you had a “stale yellow light” and are guilty of running a yellow light. In this case, instead of turning on the yellow light, you should wait behind the line until the light turns green again before entering the intersection.