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Red light ticket? Where's the line?

Posted at 6:52 PM, Feb 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-18 12:09:12-05
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - In Tucson, Red Light Cameras can't be used to issue tickets anymore, but you still may be confused over precisely when an officer can write a red light ticket.
 
That's because of how the law defines exactly when an intersection begins.  If you're in it when the light goes from yellow to red, there's no violation.  But if the light changes seconds before you cross the line you are ticket bait.
        
Now lawmakers may change the law so you have a better understanding of when you are---or are not--in trouble.
 
Red light cameras are no longer leading to violations at intersections but there's still a lot of confusion over just where the violation point is. Right now, there's a new bill working its way through the State Legislature that could clear some of that up.
      
At an intersection a few feet, and a few seconds could make the difference in whether an officer writes you a ticket.  The law says you're legal if you are in the intersection before the light turns red.
 
Most drivers go by the stop line near the crosswalk.
 
That's true in most states, but not Arizona.  
 
Right now Arizona law defines the intersection as the box you'd get if you drew a line from each curb line.
 
You can drive past the crosswalk on a yellow but there's still time to turn red before you cross into the box. That could mean a ticket.
 
The new bill makes the boundaries the stop lines near the crosswalk.  That way it's easier for drivers to reach the intersection before a light turns red. 
      
Mark Spear worked on the election that stopped red light cameras in Tucson.  He's been trying to convince state lawmakers to stop confusing drivers, and re-define the intersections.
 
Because the bill made it out of a House committee by unanimous vote that's a good sign of its chance of passing the full Arizona House. It still has to pass through the Senate and get past the Governor's desk before it would become law.