In 2018, a man living in Baton Rouge got attention throughout the state, but not likely the kind he wanted. He was cited for an unusual record in the history of Baton Rouge’s red-light camera program, having run up $26,633 in unpaid tickets and late fees for failing to obey Louisiana’s laws about speeding at red lights.
In addition to citing this particular driver — who has received more than 100 tickets — as being on the top of the list for red-light violators, it also highlighted the problem Baton Rouge and other cities in Louisiana were having: that fewer and fewer people bother paying their tickets because there are no consequences for doing so. If a driver speeds through a red light at an intersection with cameras, they can get a $117 ticket in the mail. But for those who don’t pay the tickets, it doesn’t count against them. The law allows the city-parish to report the debt to collection agencies, boot the driver’s vehicle or pursue the overdue money in small claims court, but it doesn’t lead to a suspension of their license.
That doesn’t mean there are no consequences to violating Louisiana’s “Beating the Light” laws against speeding at red lights.
What are Louisiana’s Beating the Light Laws?
Louisiana very much wants drivers to avoid speeding up as they approach a yellow light, and definitely avoid rushing through a red light, which is why the Pelican State has a Beating the Light law. At a red light, whether it’s solid or flashing, motorists are required to make a complete stop. The driver also needs to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and other traffic passing through the intersection — a key reason why the state doesn’t want motorists speeding up as they approach a red light.
In addition to paying a fine, which will generally range from about $150 to $225, the driver who violates the law could potentially face jail time and, depending on the circumstances, a conviction for reckless driving. More importantly, if a motorist runs a red light and ends up causing the death of a pedestrian or another driver, they could face vehicular homicide charges.
How Dangerous is it to Run a Red Light?
Across the country, deaths from drivers running red lights have tragically gone up, and reached a 10-year high in 2017, according to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The study found that fatalities in red-light collisions increased for a fifth straight year in 2017, and in one shocking statistic, that at least two people are killed every day from a driver speeding through a red light.
Why are these tragic numbers continuing to increase? The AAA Foundation suggested two possible causes: first, there are simply more drivers on the road than ever before as the nation’s population keeps rising, but also that more drivers in the smartphone age seem distracted while on the road. Distracted driving is increasingly being cited as a cause for accidents and deaths from red-light running. The study found that more than half the people who got killed in these accidents were not the drivers who ran the red light or their passengers, but the people they hit.
Louisiana’s laws understand this risk. The state provides guidelines to new drivers on how to respond to yellow lights, with the Louisiana Driver’s Guide clearly stating that if a light turns yellow, that’s a cautionary warning that it’s about to turn red, so drivers must slow down and stop. The guide also makes it clear that the driver shouldn’t speed up to get through the intersection. But not everyone obeys those rules.
Are There Defenses for Running a Red Light?
When a driver is approaching a yellow light, it’s doubtful many of them are thinking about how this situation alone leads to far more wrecks and serious injuries than it should. While some drivers respond to the yellow light by slamming on their brakes, more aggressive drivers try to plow right through.
Circumstances can help dictate which is a better option. If the drivers are dealing with pouring rain, slamming on their brakes can be a bad idea. And there are defenses for running a red light. It’s possible the driver could argue that they were trying to avoid a potentially dangerous situation by not stopping. That’s why if you received a citation or ticket for running a red light, it can be challenged in court.
Experienced Car Accident and Traffic Attorneys in Louisiana
If you’re involved in a car accident in Louisiana and are not sure what to do next, the car accident attorneys at The Offices of E. Orum Young will use their decades of experience to assist you with your claim. With accolades that include the Gold Medal Congressional Award, you can be confident that we will handle your case thoroughly and with care.
Attorneys at E. Orum Young Law have filed more than 20,000 cases and have more than 35 years of experience. Give us a call today at 318-303-4194 for your free case review. It’s your right to know your options!