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Running a Red Light in Florida

Many people may have been driving and were about to drive through an intersection when they suddenly find themselves embroiled in a seemingly no-win situation.  A traffic light that was green is suddenly turning from yellow into red, but a quick check into the rear-view mirror shows that the car behind them clearly was not going to stop.  Or, it is raining, the roads are slick, and you know if you slam on the brakes it may cause you to lose control of your car.  Therefore, running a red light is your only option to avoid hydroplaning and potentially causing an accident if your car starts skidding and you lose control, smashing into other cars as a result.

In situations like these, as a Florida motorist you are essentially left with the choice to either (1) run the red light and potentially risk your own safety or that of others around you, or (2) stop for the red light and perhaps risk serious injuries if the car behind you clearly is not going to stop.  Although it is against the law to run a red light in the Sunshine State, this is not an absolute commandment that cannot be violated under any circumstances.  There can be instances in which a person may have been avoiding an even more dangerous situation by running the red light, such as the scenario where if the driver had stopped, he or she would be rear-ended by another car that was clearly intending to make the light, no matter what color it was.

This issue can also raise its head in motor vehicle accident scenarios.  For example, a driver may claim that he or she did not stop because the driver behind him or her was not going to stop. And, further, he or she should not be held liable for the result of their conduct in hitting you because they chose the lesser of two evils: running the red light and hitting you versus stopping at the red light and potentially causing an even worse situation.  What you need to understand as an accident victim, however, is that it is not the other person who decides whether his or her own actions were justified; that is the jury’s call.  Therefore, simply because the motorist that hit you claims his or her actions were justified does not mean anything in and of itself.  You can challenge that driver’s assertion and should do so.

What Is the Rule in Florida Regarding Red Lights?

Under Florida law, running a red light is a moving violation that carries with it often substantial penalties.  Ever since the red light camera first became standard in many Florida cities in the past several years, the number of drivers cited for running a red light in the Sunshine State has skyrocketed.  Running a red light carries a minimum $158 penalty and four points on your driver’s license.

In terms of what actually constitutes running a red light, the typical rule of thumb is that, if your motor vehicle has not completely passed the white line that indicates where your car must stop on red, then you will not be considered to have run a red light.   For example, if you enter an intersection when the light is yellow, but the light turns red as you pass underneath, most police officers or judges would consider you to have run a red light.  Therefore, the key is what position your car was in at the time that the light actually turned red in determining whether or not you ran the red light.

When a Driver Runs a Red Light

Running a red light is rarely a black-and-white situation.  At Schwed, Adams & McGinley, we have represented those who have been injured by drivers that claim to have had an excuse for running a red light which caused that driver to then hit and injure our client.  There may indeed be a reason for the motorist that hit you to have run the red light, but whether the driver was justified in doing so or not is a decision that ultimately a jury will make.  Simply because the driver claims that he or she “had no other choice” but to run the red light does not mean that what he or she did was not negligence; at the end of the day, it is the jury’s call as to whether a driver made a choice that was negligent or not.  The key question that the jury will answer was whether the driver’s actions were reasonable under the circumstances.

Contact Schwed, Adams, & McGinley

At Schwed Adams & McGinley, P.A., our experienced personal injury attorneys have more than 150 years of combined legal experience and many of our firm’s cases stem from motor vehicle accidents in which our clients have been injured due to someone else’s negligence.  We have encountered plenty of situations in which the motorist that hit our client may claim to have been justified in whatever he or she did or did not do.  However, we don’t simply take the other driver’s word for it or give them the benefit of the doubt; we challenge that driver’s version of events and do whatever we can to ensure our clients are fairly compensated for their injuries suffered as a result of someone else’s negligence.  Call us toll free at 877.694.6079 or email us today at contact@schwedlawfirm.com to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer.