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New law allows Ohio drivers to run red lights with specific restrictions

A new state law in Ohio allows drivers to go through red lights in certain situations, but police are cautioning motorists.

The new state law allows drivers to go through red lights if the light isn’t working properly and only if the intersection is clear of oncoming traffic. Police said drivers still need to stop, and they can’t drive through a red light just because they are in a hurry.

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"This is about safety," Kettering, Ohio, police Officer John Jung said. "We don’t want the driver to approach a red light, wait for a couple of seconds and determine that it is malfunctioning and then blow through a red light. You still have to proceed with caution."

Jung said city traffic laws are not always the same as state laws, so drivers need to make sure the law applies to the city in which they are driving. 

If a driver does go through a red light, he or she has the burden to prove it that was malfunctioning. 

"If they cause a traffic accident and it turns out the light was working properly, they will be the at-fault driver," Jung said.

Driving instructors said the new law has caused some confusion, with instructors needing to tell new drivers that it isn’t a free pass to run every light.

"This isn’t going to be an everyday occurrence," said D&D Driving School training manager Brent Praeter. "This isn’t something they need to do commonly at intersections when the light is red and feel (they) like they have been sitting for too long."

If a motorist does come across a light that isn’t working, he or she is advised to call police.

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