Where exactly do I stop at red lights (in the City of Seattle)?
One of the most common legal debates I have with lawyers and non-lawyers alike is the question of where exactly drivers need to stop at red lights. Like all good legal questions, the correct answer is "it depends." (Please note that this guide is specific to Seattle.)
"At a clearly marked stop line"Pursuant to Seattle Municipal Code Section 11.50.140, "[v]ehicle operators facing a steady circular red signal alone shall stop at a clearly marked stop line".
In other words, if there is a stop line (i.e. a thick white line crossing your lane), you must stop behind that line if there is a solid red light.
"[B]efore "entering the crosswalk"If there is no stop line, then you must stop "before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection". SMC 11.50.140. A crosswalk is defined as "the portion of the roadway between the intersection area and the prolongation or connection of the farthest sidewalk line, or, in the event there are no constructed sidewalks, then between the intersection area and a line ten feet (10') therefrom, except as modified by a marked crosswalk." SMC 11.14.135.
"[B]efore entering the intersection control area"If there is neither a stop line, nor a crosswalk, then you must stop "before entering the intersection control area". Intersection control area "means an intersection, together with such modifications of the adjacent roadway area as result from the arc of curb corners, and together with any marked or unmarked crosswalks adjacent to the intersection." SMC 11.14.266.