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TEXAS (KAMR/KCIT) – Texans don’t always take kindly to being compared to California, but a few of the states’ transportation laws are actually pretty similar.

It’s common knowledge in Texas that drivers can typically make right turns from the rightmost lane during a red light, as long as they stop and make sure there is no incoming traffic or other need to yield the right-of-way. However, the Texas Transportation Code also appears to allow left turns during red lights in specific circumstances.

§544.007 of the Texas Transportation Code goes into detail about turning at intersections, including stating that a driver can turn left at a red traffic light if:

  • They have stopped at the intersection;
  • They have yielded the right-of-way to pedestrians and other traffic; and
  • If both intersecting streets are one-way streets.

Note the code only allows for a left turn on red if you’re on a one-way street and turning on to another one-way. The same is true in California.

The code also says that the Texas Transportation Commission, a municipal authority, or a county’s commissioner’s court can prohibit red-light turns within their jurisdiction by posting a notice at the impacted intersection. This means that left turns on red lights could be allowed so long as there is no other notice posted – and, of course, so long as a driver uses their turn signal.

According to the code, the general penalty for a person who is convicted of a moving violation like an improper turn includes a fine of up to $200. However, some counties and municipalities have a record of costs related to turning violations reaching up to $235. With that in mind, it continues to be the best practice when driving in Texas to look carefully at any intersection for oncoming traffic or assorted road signs, whether a driver is turning or not.