right turn on red from outside lane
July 13, 2008 11:41 AM   Subscribe

I know it's legal to make a right turn on a red light after a complete stop (at least in CA). Does that apply when there are *two* right turn lanes? That is, in areas where there are two right turn lanes, I've never thought twice about making a right on red when I'm in the lane closest to the curb. But I've always been a bit skittish about making a right on red in the "outside" lane. Is a right on red (after a complete stop) legal from the "outside" lane as well?
posted by edjusted to Law & Government (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes, unless marked otherwise (like with a sign or red arrow).
posted by AlisonM at 11:56 AM on July 13, 2008

In VA, right on red from the rightmost lane is legal unless marked otherwise. Every intersection I can think of with 2 right lanes specifically forbids right turn on red from the middle turn lane.
posted by COD at 12:18 PM on July 13, 2008

Not exactly relevant, but it's also legal to turn left on red if you're in the far left lane of a one way street, and are turning left onto another one way street (at least it was in Texas when I took driver's ed 20 years ago).
posted by syzygy at 12:24 PM on July 13, 2008

It appears to be legal in Washington; we have two in my city that I use pretty regularly, including in front of/beside a city police officer. And the same is true in Washington for the left turn situation, syzygy.
posted by lhauser at 1:39 PM on July 13, 2008

In most states, it is legal to make a right on red (after a complete stop, of course) UNLESS there is a sign specifically prohibiting it. There are a couple intersections where I live with dual right turn lanes and no one hesitates to go from the inside lane on red.

As an aside, here is Missouri, left on red is never legal, even when it is from a one way street onto another one way street. But Missouri is in the minority when it comes to this.
posted by PhillC at 1:44 PM on July 13, 2008

I asked an Ontario cop about this once. It is legal to make a right turn from the "outside" lane after a complete stop if the way is clear (i.e. same rule as for a normal right hand turn).
posted by KevCed at 2:18 PM on July 13, 2008

I would say that if in doubt, do not assume that any outside lane permits a right turn. It appears to be illegal in Wisconsin, for example. The places I know that it would be possible (if it were legal) have explicit signage and red turn signals prohibiting it.

If you're planning on turning right, and you believe you'll get stopped by the light, then move into the rightmost lane. Traffic is moving, anyway, isn't it?
posted by dhartung at 2:53 PM on July 13, 2008

Yes, unless marked otherwise (like with a sign or red arrow).
posted by AlisonM at 11:56 AM on July 13 [+] [!]

That guy cites CVC 22100(3) which doesn't appear to say anything about red lights or intersections. Without further elaboration about his credentials from which he makes that interpretation, I don't know I'd trust that particular assertion.

This Oakland Tribune Article seems to agree generally with what he's saying but says that there really isn't a solid yes/no in the CVC or DMV handbook (which jibes with my quick search):

Another teaser: Can you make a right turn on a red light from a center lane?

Rachel Osorio thought a cop was teasing her when she was stopped at the southbound I-880 exit to Brokaw Road, where there are two right-turn lanes. She was in the left of those lanes, the light was red, she stopped and when clear, turned.

"I got a ticket," she said, arguing unsuccessfully with the cop that she could turn from either lane.

She started checking. The driver's handbook? Nothing. The DMV? No help. Traffic court folks? Nada.

So off to court she went armed with pictures and articles. Case dismissed. You can make a right turn on a red light from any lane after stopping -- so long as that lane is marked for a turn with signs or arrows in the pavement.

"The officer was ticked and stormed out," she said. "I got my bail refunded. Yeah!"

Personally, I think it's a bad idea, if only because there are so many people who don't understand they need to stay in their lanes when making a turn. I think you're asking to get t-boned by someone. I actually have always assumed it was illegal.
posted by fishfucker at 3:48 PM on July 13, 2008

I asked this same question to a couple cops here in LA once, and they both said that it was ok as long as you came to a complete stop and looked both ways. They thought it was a funny question because they both said that they do it all the time :)
posted by starscream at 5:48 PM on July 13, 2008

If you are driving a school bus, it is illegal to turn right on red. Stop blowing the horn please! Those hand gestures, I have kids in here!
posted by JujuB at 7:02 PM on July 13, 2008

Whether it's legal or not, it's not a good idea. Change to the outermost lane first. You don't want to start doing this, and have the person outermost from you decide they want to do it too.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:20 PM on July 13, 2008

I don't know if it's currently legal, but the drivers handbook about 6 years ago said that you could only make a right turn on red from the curb lane. That and that it is never legal to drive with only your running lights on (I picked up the handbook to answer those questions for myself).
posted by Four Flavors at 10:40 AM on July 14, 2008

The current version of the handbook doesn't mention needing to be in turn curb lane though (page 21). So I'm going to assume that since it was removed that it must now be legal.
sadly the daytime running lights thing isn't in there anymore either.
posted by Four Flavors at 10:48 AM on July 14, 2008

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