Navigating the roads requires attentiveness and adherence to traffic rules for the safety of all involved. One of the essential aspects of road safety is understanding and obeying traffic lights, a topic governed by New Jersey Statute 39:4-105. This law specifically focuses on the three-color system used in traffic signals and what each color signifies for drivers. Understanding this statute is critical for anyone driving in New Jersey, especially if you’ve been charged with a traffic offense like failing to stop for a red light.
What Does The Three-Color System Mean?
The statute mandates that all traffic signals in New Jersey use a three-color system: red, amber (yellow), and green. Each color has a specific meaning, dictating how drivers should react when approaching an intersection.
When the light is green, drivers are permitted to go through the intersection, given it is safe to do so and unless otherwise directed by an officer, official sign, or special signal.
A red light means that drivers must come to a complete stop before entering the intersection or crosswalk. Vehicles must remain stationary until the light turns green, again unless directed otherwise by a law enforcement officer or official signage.
This color follows the green light and indicates that drivers should prepare to stop before entering the intersection or the nearest crosswalk. The law makes an exception for cases where a vehicle is too close to stop safely when the amber light appears.
Specifics On The Amber Light: The 50-Foot Rule And Speed
The statute provides further guidance on how to approach an amber light. It specifies that a distance of fifty feet from the intersection is considered a safe stopping distance when traveling at a speed of twenty miles per hour. If a vehicle or street car is within that 50-foot zone when the amber light appears and cannot be stopped safely, it is allowed to proceed across the intersection. The vehicle may also make a right or left turn, unless a sign or signal specifically restricts such turning movements.
When Can You Proceed Or Turn During Red And Amber Lights?
In most cases, vehicles should remain stopped during a red light, but there are conditions where a vehicle might be specifically directed to proceed by an officer, official sign, or special signal. Similarly, vehicles close to the intersection during an amber light, which cannot safely stop, are allowed to proceed through the intersection or make turns unless specifically limited by signage or other official directives.
Types Of Defenses For 39:4-105: Failing To Stop For A Traffic Light
The Amber Light Scenario: Close Proximity And Safe Stopping
One of the key aspects of the 39:4-105 statute is the role of the amber, or yellow, light. According to the law, if the vehicle or streetcar is so close to the intersection that stopping would be unsafe when the amber light appears, proceeding through the intersection is permitted. Specifically, the statute mentions that a distance of 50 feet from the intersection at a speed of twenty miles per hour is considered a safe stopping distance. Therefore, if you were within this distance and speed when the amber light appeared, you could argue that it was unsafe to stop, thereby providing a defense against the charge.
Specific Directions By An Officer Or Official Sign
The statute also allows for certain exceptions if you are “specifically directed to go by an officer, official sign, or special signal.” If you proceeded through a red or amber light based on such directions, this could serve as a defense. However, it’s crucial to have evidence supporting this claim, such as video footage or eyewitness testimony.
Technical Malfunction Of The Traffic Signal
Traffic laws generally accommodate for unexpected technical issues. If you can demonstrate that the traffic light was malfunctioning at the time of the alleged offense, that could potentially serve as a defense. However, proving this would likely require evidence such as video footage, eyewitness accounts, or official reports on the malfunction.
Ambiguities In The Law: Undefined Terms Or Conditions
Some terms or conditions in the statute may be open to interpretation, which could offer another avenue for defense. For example, the law states that you can proceed during a green light “subject to the safety of others.” If you can demonstrate that your failure to stop was indeed subject to the safety of others, then you may have a viable defense based on this ambiguous clause.
Frequently Asked Questions About 39:4-105: Failing To Stop For A Traffic Light
What Does A Green Light Mean According To New Jersey’s 39:4-105?
A green light means that traffic is allowed to proceed through the intersection, subject to the safety of others and any specific directions from an officer, official sign, or special signal.
Do I Always Have To Stop At A Yellow (Amber) Light?
No, you don’t always have to stop at an amber light. The law states that if you’re so close to the intersection that stopping safely is impossible, you are allowed to proceed. The statute defines a safe stopping distance as 50 feet from the intersection when traveling at a speed of 20 miles per hour.
Can I Make A Turn During A Red Light?
The statute specifies that you must stop at a red light and cannot proceed until the light turns green, unless you are specifically directed to go by an officer, official sign, or special signal. It does not explicitly allow for turns during a red light.
What Evidence Can I Use To Defend Myself Against A 39:4-105 Charge?
Evidence can include video footage, eyewitness testimonies, or official reports. These can help prove that you were specifically directed to go by an officer or that the traffic light was malfunctioning, among other possible defenses.
What Happens If I Proceed During An Amber Light And Then It Turns Red?
If you were within the 50-foot safe stopping distance when the amber light appeared and you could not safely stop, you are permitted to proceed through the intersection, even if the light turns red while you’re in the intersection. Failure to follow the law could result in a fine and two points on your driver’s license.
The Law Offices Of Jonathan F. Marshall Traffic Light Offense Lawyers
If you have been charged with failing to stop for a traffic light under New Jersey’s 39:4-105 statute, professional legal counsel can make all the difference in your case. The experienced traffic ticket lawyers at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are here to help you navigate the complexities of New Jersey traffic laws. To discuss the specifics of your case, contact us at (855) 933-3761 or online. With offices throughout New Jersey, we are easily accessible and ready to provide the representation you need.
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