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Is it legal to run a red light if it doesn't change?

In Indiana, if you encounter a traffic light that does not change, there are specific guidelines you should follow to ensure you are acting within the law. The Indiana Code provides some clarity on what to do in such situations.

Indiana Traffic Laws for Malfunctioning Signals

Under Indiana Code IC 9-21-3-7, drivers may proceed through a red light if they have come to a complete stop and exercised due caution.

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Complete Stop: You must come to a complete stop at the red light.

  2. Reasonable Wait: Wait for a reasonable amount of time to ensure the light is indeed malfunctioning. There is no specific duration defined, so use your judgment.

  3. Ensure Safety: Check that the intersection is clear of other vehicles and pedestrians.

  4. Proceed with Caution: If it is safe to do so, you may proceed through the intersection.

Specific Statutory Reference

The relevant statute, Indiana Code IC 9-21-3-7, states:

"If a signal is malfunctioning, a driver who has stopped in compliance with the red signal may proceed with caution when it is safe to do so."

Practical Steps to Take

  • Stop Completely: Make sure your vehicle is fully stopped before the crosswalk or intersection.

  • Wait and Observe: Give the signal time to change, observing traffic from all directions.

  • Proceed Safely: If after a reasonable period the light does not change and the way is clear, proceed with caution.


If you encounter a malfunctioning signal and decide to proceed:

  • Record the Event: Note the time and location.

  • Witnesses: If possible, have any passengers note what happened.

  • Dash Cam: If you have a dash cam, it can provide useful evidence.

If Ticketed

If you receive a ticket for running a red light due to a malfunctioning signal:

  • Gather Evidence: Collect any evidence that supports your claim that the light was malfunctioning.

  • Consult an Attorney: An attorney can help you present your case effectively in court.


In Indiana, you can legally proceed through a red light if it is malfunctioning, provided you follow the appropriate steps to ensure safety. Always stop completely, wait a reasonable amount of time, and proceed with caution if it is safe to do so. Documenting the incident can be helpful if you need to defend your actions later. Understanding and following these guidelines will help you navigate such situations legally and safely.



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