Mark McCown: Nephew not wrong about state driving laws

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 16, 2022

Dear Lawyer Mark: I was riding around with my nephew the other day, who has his driver’s permit and is still learning. We were in town, and came up to an intersection with a stop sign set so far back that you cannot see the traffic on the side. He went right past the stop sign before stopping so that he could see better. I told him that he has to do what we were always taught: You must stop before the stop sign, then pull up and stop again.

He can be a know-it-all, and told me that is not what the law says.

This got us talking about other things, liking making sure both taillights are working (he says you don’t have to have both). Can you please tell me which laws say that, so that I can set him straight, because I know I’m right? — Not Crying Uncle

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Dear Uncle: Your nephew may not know it all, but on these issues he is correct. I, and everyone I know who took driver’s education, was always taught to stop before a stop sign, but that is not the law in Ohio.

Revised Code 4511.43 says that whenever approaching a stop sign, the driver must “stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or, if none, then at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of the approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway before entering it.”

In essence, a stop sign is a warning sign that you have to stop before the next intersection.

If there is a “stop line” (the wide white bar that just goes over the lanes of traffic going in your direction), you must stop there.

If there isn’t one, but there is a marked off crosswalk, you have to stop before the crosswalk.

But, your nephew is right, if neither of those are marked on the pavement, he doesn’t have to stop until before the intersection, which will probably be past the stop sign. There simply is no law in the revised code that says you must stop before a stop sign.

Revised Code 4513.05 provides that every vehicle “shall be equipped with at least one tail light mounted on the rear which, when lighted, shall emit a red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear.”

Again, he is correct, you only need one red tail light (of course, another provision requires you to have an additional white license plate light).

Thought for the Day: “Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every New Year find you a better man.” Benjamin Franklin.

It’s The Law is written by attorney Mark K. McCown in response to legal questions received by him. If you have a question, please forward it to Mark K. McCown, 311 Park Avenue, Ironton, Ohio 45638, or e-mail it to him at The right to condense and/or edit all questions is reserved.