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Can You Turn Left on a Red Light in Michigan?

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

Can you turn left on a red light in Michigan? In the U.S., only a few states permit drivers to turn left on a red light, and Michigan is among them. However, this is allowed only under certain conditions. In 2022, Michigan recorded 6,951 accidents involving head-on left turns, with 44 resulting in fatalities.

It’s important to always check for any specific signage at the intersection that might prohibit such a turn and ensure that the way is clear and safe before proceeding. If you’ve been injured in a traffic accident, contact us today for a complimentary consultation with an experienced car accident attorney.

When Can You Turn Left on a Red Light in Michigan?

While it’s understood that turning right on red in Michigan varies based on the intersection and signage, you might be curious about whether there are instances when it’s legal to turn left on a red light.

According to Michigan Statute 257.612, you are allowed to make a left turn from a one-way or two-way street onto a one-way street that flows in the direction of the turn unless there’s a sign, signal, or traffic control device indicating otherwise.

  • Left turn from a one-way street onto another one-way street. When on a one-way street facing a steady red signal, you can turn left onto another one-way street that goes in the direction of your turn. Make sure to come to a complete stop and ensure it’s safe to proceed before executing the turn.
  • Left turn from a two-way street onto a one-way street. If you’re driving on a two-way street and approaching an intersection with a one-way street, you can turn left on a red light unless a sign prohibits it. Always come to a full stop and verify it’s safe before turning.

When is it Illegal to Turn Left on a Red Light in Michigan?

Situations where turning left on a red light is unsafe and could result in the driver being liable for any harm caused include:

  • From a two-way to a two-way street. Turning left on red from a two-way street onto another two-way street is illegal. Unless specifically indicated otherwise, this rule applies to all intersections.
  • From a one-way to a two-way street. Turning left on red from a one-way street onto a two-way street is prohibited. This ensures the safety of oncoming traffic from the opposite direction.
  • Where prohibited by signs or signals. You must follow any signs or signals at an intersection that forbid left turns on red.
  • Opposing traffic has a green light. Turning left on red is illegal if oncoming traffic has a green light. This rule is in place to avoid accidents with vehicles going straight or making right turns.
  • Interference with pedestrians or other vehicles. It’s illegal to turn left on a red light if doing so would disrupt pedestrians, bicyclists, or other vehicles legally using the intersection.
  • Unsafe conditions. Drivers should avoid left turns on a red light if visibility, road conditions, or any other factors that make a left turn on red dangerous. For instance, in conditions like heavy rain or snow, which can obscure the view of oncoming traffic, turning left at a red light becomes unsafe.

What are the Consequences of Turning Left on a Red Light Illegally?

Making an illegal left turn at a red light can lead to several repercussions, including legal, financial, and civil consequences.

  • Traffic violation ticket. If you’re caught turning left on a red light where it’s prohibited, police officers may give you a traffic ticket. This could result in a fine. In 2022, fines for failing to yield while making a left turn at an intersection ranged from $110 to $128.
  • Increased insurance rates. Insurance companies often consider traffic violations like running a red light as indicators of risky driving behavior. Receiving a ticket can result in higher premium rates or trouble finding coverage.
  • Points on your driving record. Accumulating points on your driving record is a consequence of traffic violations like running a red light. Gathering too many points within a certain period can lead to the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license.
  • Potential civil liability. If a collision occurs due to your illegal left turn, you could be civilly responsible for any resulting damages and injuries. This might involve expensive legal proceedings and the obligation to compensate the injured party.
  • Increased risk of accidents. Making an illegal left turn on a red light increases the risk of accidents, including collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians, or cyclists. These accidents can lead to severe injuries and fatalities.

Filing a Claim Against a Driver Who Turned Illegally on Red Light

If you’re in an accident where the other driver illegally turned on a red light, you can file a claim against their liability insurance for damages. Typically, these damages cover medical bills, vehicle repair costs, and any lost income due to the accident.

Our skilled personal injury lawyers can assist you with your claim by thoroughly investigating the accident and compiling evidence to establish liability. We will obtain traffic camera recordings, police reports, and witness statements and if necessary consult accident reconstruction experts to determine who was at fault.

Next, we will evaluate your damages and assist in securing suitable compensation via your personal injury protection insurance and the liable driver’s insurance. Our partner attorney and registered nurse, Eileen Kroll, will apply her medical expertise to accurately assess the cost of your injuries and link them to the accident using medical records.

Should the other party’s insurer decline to settle for a reasonable amount, we can assist you in pursuing compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Your legal team will represent you in court, introduce expert witnesses, and present comprehensive evidence to substantiate your claims and secure an appropriate damage award.

What if You Were Partially Responsible for the Crash?

In Michigan, if you share some responsibility for a crash, like making an illegal turn while the other driver was speeding, the case is subject to modified comparative negligence laws. This implies that your potential compensation could be reduced in proportion to your level of fault.

For example, if you’re 30% responsible because you didn’t turn correctly and were awarded $50,000, you would only receive $35,000. If you are found to be more than 50% at fault, you are ineligible for compensation.

Our knowledgeable car collision lawyers can examine the details of the crash to help reduce your level of fault. For example, if you were ticketed for running a red light, we can contest this by taking the following actions:

  • Identifying mitigating factors. We will investigate aspects such as road conditions, visibility problems, or other drivers’ behavior that might have played a role in the accident. This could potentially lower your portion of the blame.
  • Contesting traffic citations. Contesting a ticket for running a red light is important because it can alter the officially recorded version of the incident. By disputing the ticket, we can encourage the insurance company to reevaluate who was at fault. This may reduce your liability and increase the likelihood of a more favorable settlement.

Turn left on a red light in Michigan

Tips for Avoiding a Red Light Intersection Crash

Preventing red light violations is essential for road safety and avoiding legal consequences. Whether considering a left-hand turn or approaching an intersection, the following tips can help you stay safe:

  • Adhere to traffic signals. Always follow the traffic lights and signs, ensuring you stop at red lights and only proceed when it’s legal and safe.
  • Approach intersections with caution. When approaching an intersection, reduce your speed and be prepared to stop. Ensure you have enough time to safely come to a stop if the light changes to red.
  • Observe speed limits. Drive at or below speed limits to ensure you have adequate time to react to changing traffic signals and road conditions.
  • Avoid distractions. Avoid using your phone, eating, or engaging in other distractions while driving. Distracted driving can lead to missed signals and an increased risk of running red lights.
  • Yield to oncoming traffic. Even when you have the right of way while turning left on a green light, it’s important to yield to oncoming traffic. This practice helps prevent collisions at intersections.
  • Be cautious in inclement weather. Be especially careful at intersections in bad weather conditions like rain, snow, or fog. The decreased visibility and slippery roads in these conditions can make it difficult to stop in time.
  • Watch for pedestrians and cyclists. Be attentive to pedestrians and cyclists at intersections. Always yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks and be cautious when making turns.
  • Be patient. If you approach an intersection where the light has just turned red, resist the temptation to accelerate and cross. Instead, wait for the next green light to proceed safely.
  • Plan your route. Familiarize yourself with the roads and intersections along your route, especially if you are driving in an unfamiliar area. Knowing the traffic patterns and signal timings can help you anticipate light changes.

Protect Your Right to Compensation After a Red-Light Left-Turn Crash

Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. is committed to serving the legal needs of our clients with dedication, expertise, and compassion. If you have been hurt by a driver making a dangerous left-hand turn at a red light, speak with our attorneys to learn your options for compensation.

Contact us for a free consultation where we can discuss your case, explain the legal consequences of turning left on a red light in Michigan, and start your claim for a fair settlement.

Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at  1-866-MICH-LAW   and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.

Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Alistair MacDonald holds a bachelor’s degree in History and minors in Classics and Economics from Hamilton College. He writes about complex financial and legal topics, explaining them in a reader-friendly way.



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