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How to Prove You Didn’t Run a Red Light in an Accident

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

Running a red light is a serious traffic violation that can lead to accidents and endanger lives. In 2022, Michigan experienced over 10,000 accidents from ignoring traffic signals such as red lights. If you’re accused of running a red light after a car accident, an attorney from Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. can help you collect evidence to show you weren’t at fault and reduce your responsibility.

What Constitutes a Red Light Violation?

The red light rules in Michigan are based on Vehicle Codes 257.612 and 257.614, which state the following:

  • Stop at a red light. If you see a red light, stop your vehicle before the first crosswalk line you encounter or at a marked limit line if one is present.
  • Remain stopped. You are required to stay in your stop position until the light turns green.
  • Exceptions for turns. After coming to a complete stop, you can turn right onto a one-way or two-way street. If you’re on a one-way street, you may also turn left onto another one-way street.
  • Yield the right of way. You must give way to pedestrians and other traffic. If someone is crossing the street, wait for them to pass before you proceed.
  • Flashing red light. If you encounter a rapidly flashing red light, you must stop before the nearest crosswalk or marked limit line and proceed according to stop sign rules.

Reasons for Receiving an Undeserved Red Light Ticket After a Crash

If you’re given a red light ticket after an accident but believe you didn’t run the light, it’s essential to know why you received the citation. This knowledge helps your car accident attorney defend you and contest the ticket. Here are potential reasons for an undeserved red-light citation:

  • Obstructed view. You may have an obstructed view of the intersection, leading to a mistaken judgment. Objects like other vehicles, trees, or buildings can sometimes block a clear line of sight or a no-turn on red sign.
  • Faulty traffic signal. Traffic lights can sometimes show faulty signals. If you move forward thinking you have a green light when you don’t, you could be wrongly ticketed.
  • Inaccurate witness statements. Sometimes, witnesses may mistakenly believe they saw an event or recall it inaccurately. Mistaken accounts can lead an officer to issue a red-light ticket.
  • Construction or temporary lights. Construction and road work can change regular traffic flow and signals, causing confusion. Temporary lights or changed signs might be unclear, causing you to turn or cross when it’s not allowed.
  • Misinterpretation of the law. Even police officers can err, and they might sometimes misinterpret or misapply traffic rules. These misunderstandings can result in an undeserved ticket.

Why It’s Important to Challenge the Claim that You Ran a Red Light in a Crash

Contesting a red light violation claim after an accident is crucial. In addition to a fine, this citation can impact legal responsibility and potential compensation and have other legal consequences.

  • Legal rights. Every citizen has the right to challenge a legal citation. If you have reason to believe the ticket was unjustly issued, it’s within your rights to present your case.
  • Determination of fault. In Michigan, though the no-fault insurance system pays for medical costs after an accident, an injured driver can seek extra compensation from the person at fault. If you’re found responsible, you could be sued for damages beyond no-fault coverage, including pain and suffering and other financial losses.
  • Insurance premium increase. Your insurance rates may increase if you’re found at fault for a violation like running a red light. If you have previous tickets, it could also result in losing coverage.
  • Legal consequences. Depending on the violation’s severity and details, you could face fines or a driving suspension.
  • Maintain license eligibility. If you get too many points on your license, you risk suspension. Successfully challenging the ticket can help prevent this outcome.
  • Impact on settlement negotiations. If you’re in a settlement discussion or lawsuit, being deemed at fault can hurt your bargaining stance. The other side might use this to claim you were negligent, making it harder for you to defend your position or get a fair settlement. Michigan uses a modified comparative fault approach to liability. If you’re more than 50% at fault, you can’t receive compensation for your injuries.
  • Peace of mind. If you genuinely believe you were right, standing up for yourself can offer personal satisfaction and peace of mind, knowing you defended your actions.
  • Potential for mercy. If you accidentally ran a red light, the court might be more understanding if you prove it was a one-time mistake or there were special circumstances.

Prove You Didn’t Run a Red Light

How to Prove You Didn’t Run a Red Light

At Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C., we defend the rights of car accident victims. If you’re accused of running a red light after a crash, we can assist in showing the ticket was unjustly issued.

Our attorneys will gather the following evidence to prove you didn’t deserve the citation and help you maximize compensation:

  • Traffic camera footage. We will obtain relevant camera footage and conduct a frame-by-frame analysis to determine when you entered the intersection and the corresponding traffic light status. This provides objective proof for challenging the ticket.
  • Witness testimonies. Our team will seek out eyewitnesses and conduct thorough interviews. We’ll use their accounts to build a timeline that corroborates your version of events and, if needed, have these witnesses testify in court.
  • Expert consultation. Our legal team may collaborate with traffic safety experts who can evaluate the specifics of the intersection, like the visibility and placement of the traffic light, as well as the timing between signal changes. This shows that the infrastructure might have contributed to the alleged violation.
  • Documenting road conditions. If weather conditions like fog or heavy rain were present, or if there were construction or temporary traffic signals, we’ll gather weather reports, construction schedules, or municipal notices as evidence. These can prove that external factors made the traffic situation unclear.
  • Vehicle data. If your vehicle has an onboard data recorder, we’ll retrieve detailed information about your speed, braking patterns, and other driving behaviors seconds before the alleged violation. This data can offer a second-by-second breakdown to challenge the claim that you ran a red light.
  • Law enforcement reports. Our team will closely examine the police report for discrepancies, errors, or incomplete information. For example, if the officer mistakenly issued the ticket, we could challenge its validity.
  • Defensive driving history. If you’ve taken defensive driving courses or have a clean driving record, we can use it to bolster your credibility.
  • Testimony from passengers. If passengers were in your vehicle, their account of events can support your claim.
  • Physical evidence. Vehicle damage, debris location, and other physical signs can indicate direction and speed, helping show whether the traffic light was red at the time.
  • Determining who’s at fault. We’ll gather evidence to determine the responsible party and check if the other driver was speeding or texting. By using GPS data for speed and phone records for distractions, we aim to redirect the blame, bolstering your defense.

Stand Up for Your Rights After a Red Light Intersection Crash

Being wrongly accused of running a red light can have far-reaching consequences, from inflated insurance premiums to potential legal penalties. If you face accusations of a traffic light violation, arm yourself with the best representation.

Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. has a proven track record of successfully defending clients in traffic disputes. Contact us today for a free case review. We’ll defend your rights and assist you in challenging the ticket to ensure you get the best possible compensation.

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.

Murray McPhee is an accomplished legal blogger who is on a mission to help everyday people understand their options when suffering a personal injury.



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