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Ask a Trooper: The rules of the road for motorcycles turning at stop lights

Question: What is the rule for drivers of motorcycles for making left or right turns at intersections? Sometimes they are not heavy enough to trip the signal lights. Someone told me that they could make a left or right turn at a red light if it i...

Question: What is the rule for drivers of motorcycles for making left or right turns at intersections? Sometimes they are not heavy enough to trip the signal lights. Someone told me that they could make a left or right turn at a red light if it is safe to do so, after the signal light has cycled once.

Answer: Minnesota law addresses when motorcycles, bicycles and mopeds are not detected by control systems at traffic lights and a signal change does not occur. The law gives motorcyclists, bicyclists and moped riders the option to proceed through the intersection after a reasonable amount of time and provides an affirmative legal defense to this action. These five conditions must be met to proceed:

• The motorcycle, bicycle or moped has been brought to a complete stop.

• The traffic-control signal continues to show a red light for an unreasonable time.

• The traffic-control signal is apparently malfunctioning or, if programmed to change to a green light only after detecting the approach of a motor vehicle, the signal has apparently failed to detect the motorcycle, bicycle or moped.

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• No vehicle or person is approaching on the roadway to be crossed or entered, or

• Approaching vehicles or persons are so far away that they do not constitute an immediate hazard.

The affirmative defense applies only to an alleged violation for entering or crossing an intersection controlled by a traffic-control signal against a red light. It does not provide a defense to any other civil or criminal action.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Neil Dickenson - Minnesota State Patrol at 1131 Mesaba Ave, Duluth, MN 55811 or at neil.dickenson@state.mn.us .

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