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“Can you turn left if you are in already in the intersection when the light turns red?”

photo by Clif Burns

“Dear PoPville,

I have a question regarding turning left if you are in the intersection when the light is green, but you are unable to turn until the light turns red.

This afternoon, I was turning left onto West Virginia Avenue NE from Mt. Olivet Rd. NE when the light turned red before I was able to complete the turn. I initially entered the intersection when the light was green, as many people do, waiting for oncoming traffic to pass and to allow those behind me to continue going straight.

However, I didn’t have an opportunity to turn left until after the light turned red (it didn’t help that someone coming the other way ran the red light). I made the turn and immediately saw a camera light flash go off. I’m not sure if it was for me, the person who went through the red light, or both.

I know that in many jurisdictions if you are in the intersection when the light turns red, you have the right away. Does anyone know if that is true in DC? My only options were to turn or to stay put and partially block the intersection.”

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