No Thru Traffic signs - how leagl? enforcable?

There’s a neighborhood near mine that is situated at the corner of two major streets. For years you could drive through the neighborhood and go from one street to the other. The people in the neighborhood got tired of all the traffic so the city blocked access to one of the streets. You can now access the neighborhood by one street only. It was no big deal to most people.

I have now seen a “No Thru Traffic” sign in a neighborhood that isn’t blocked off in any way like the above. How legal and/or enforcable is this sign? There’s only one sign in only one place.

I’m not sure about how enforceable it is, but I do know there’s little an officer can do if he pulls you over for such an infraction. There’s no way he can prove that you went in their with the intent of using it as a through way. How does he know you didn’t make a wrong turn, or intended to stop at a house but decided not to? Now if he caught you several times, well that’s a different story, but regardless…

It’s quite enforceable.

Your intention does not matter. Your actions do. The police (or prosecutor or judge) are free to take account of your stated intent (or their assessment of it), but you are nonetheless in violation once you use the street for through traffic.

Since small streets almost have a stop sign where they join a major thoroughfare, it would be easy for a policeman to “set up shop” at the end of the street, and watch for cars that enter the street and pass straight through. A friend lived on a residential street that joined two oblique thoroughfares. (Rushed commuters used it to bypass several traffic lights in the commercial district around the major interesection, and sometimes endangered children walking to school) The police periodically set up a very successful “thru traffic” [sic] trap there.

You could obfuscate your intent by pulling into a driveway (leaving, then re-entering the street) but I doubt most rushed drivers who flout traffic regulations in their hurry would inconvenience themselves this way. Again it becomes a matter of what one actually does, not what one could do.

I was once charged with commiting a similar infraction which may clarify the situation: Late one evening, I was driving through the deserted center of of my small town. As I slowed for a stop light, I noticed what appeared to be a friend’s car (a rather ostentatious pre-oil embargo Cadillac) parked at a corner gas station. Since he now lived 3500 miles away, I was surprised, and pulled into the gas station to check the license plate.

It took only a moment to confirm that it was his car, and (the lot being crowded with cars awaiting repairs) continued straight to the other exit. A police car behind me observed this, and pulled me over. He believed my story (I recited the owner, make, model, and license plate of the car I’d checked) . Nonetheless, it’s unlawful to bypass a traffic light, and he wrote a ticket. (The judge dismissed it, grudgingly and with a warning, but I’d understand if hadn’t.)

I think we can all agree that allowing drivers to use a gas station or parking lot to bypass traffic lights defeats traffic control. The danger of allowing the most hurried drivers to funel down residential streets may be less obvious, but it is nonetheless real. I support such residential ‘police traps’.

Incidentally, it’s always seemed to me that many people who delight in inventing excuses why traffic laws are unenforceable complain for years when reality proves them wrong. The notion of considering the intent of the law seem beyond them.

[Then again, the appeal of the ‘legal loophole’ is undeniable. Feudal European laws were often softened by illusory loopholes (quirks which would rarely, if ever, apply). Wise lords knew that allowing one serf in 100 to ‘get away’ with a minor infraction created a general impression of fairness.]

How much is the fine in NYC for passenger cars and does the driver get any points?

How can I get DOT to put up a ‘no thru traffic sign’?


Not sure I like the idea that drivers can’t take the public road of their choice to gat from A to B. what if the residents of Fifth Avenue decided they wanted their onpwn private thoroughfare? I assume that if you live on a city street, cards driving down it is a foreseeable event.

A friend of mine was ticketed in such a situation. He fought it, prevailed, and also worked through the city to have the signs removed. It boiled down to the fact that the streets in question were maintained by the city, so couldn’t be treated as a private drive. A number of speed bumps were installed to discourage through traffic. This may vary by location, this happened in Albuquerque, NM.

FWIW, my buddy was not short cutting across a corner. This was, in fact, the shortest route between his house and where he worked. Using the arterial roads would have required about a 1/2 mile of back-tracking…and 2 additional traffic lights which was the main motivation for the route choice.

Mrs. Cad got a ticket for this when a cop saw her drive from one end to the other without stopping.

While intent is irrelevent, wouldn’t the officer have to observe you going the entire route to know that you are “thru traffic”? The deterent effect and the hassle of fighting a small fine not withstanding.

ETA “as it Mrs. Cad’s case…”

Intent is really irrelevant? Suppose I’m looking to buy a house, and there’s one for sale on this street. Is a drive-by look at the house and neighborhood really illegal? If I’m looking for my lost dog or child, can I drive down the street?

I’d certainly argue I was not thru traffic in either case, though my actions might not demonstrate that.

What do I need to do to make it legal? Stop the car without turning off the motor to look? Turn off the motor? Actually get out of the car?

I almost got nailed in a similar situation, but actually argued my way out of it with a cop on a technicality. Here in San Diego, we have a nice area called Shelter Island which has a venue called Humphrey’s where they do a lot of concerts. The road leading out to the island has a number of restaurants, and when it is getting close to an event starting, they put cones up across the middle of the road so that the flow of traffic is not otherwise held up by someone going down the road toward the island and trying to turn left into a business, or trying to turn around.

I was at one such restaurant on the way leading to the island, and in the time I was eating, the cones were placed in the road, spaced about 10 feet apart and were all clearly labeled ‘No Left Turn’. To make it clear, had I turned right like I was supposed to, I would have been stuck in a 30-45 minute traffic jam with all the concert goers, just so I could get to the end of the road to turn around. Since there was a small street at the other side of the road, I figured I could go straight through the cones, then make a U-turn on the small street and turn right, which was effectively the same as making the forbidden left turn. As soon as I drove through the cones, a cop parked at a convenience store hauled ass over to me and pulled me over and yelled at me “didn’t you see the cones?” while taking out his ticket book. I said “Officer, it doesn’t say you can’t go straight, and I was planning to go to the sailing store on this street”. Well, that second part was a lie, but if he let me go, I was certainly planning to park and go in. He did, so I did :slight_smile:

If they could convince the city government to declare Fifth Avenue only usable for certain traffic, then that’s fine.

It’s not like the residents of this neighborhood put up their own signs. They petitioned the local government to change the laws regarding their street. Seems fine to me.

My beef is with the city for agreeing to go along with it. Roads are meant to be used.

In my area I’ve only seen such signs on “private” streets and yes, it is enforced. For public residential streets it’s very common for speed bumps to be installed as a means to discourage through traffic. Low weight limits are common as well. More recently signs displaying your speed (radar signs) are being installed as reminders.

Ok, let me see if I’ve got this straight. We’re talking about streets that prohibit all through traffic, right ? Not streets that end in a cul-de-sac or dead end, so that through traffic is not possible or ones that lead you into such a maze of one-way streets that you wish you’d never tried to go through. Not streets that prohibit through traffic for trucks but not cars. Not streets with a portable sign closing them to through traffic at the beginning or end of school, or for a play street program. Not private streets.

I don't think I've even seen one of those

This. In my city, there are certain intersections that I very much prefer to avoid, in many cases because of the ridiculous timings of the lights. I routinely choose different routes (on public streets, not through corner parking lots) just to avoid those. One of those alternate routes entails driving straight through the intersection (when I actually want to turn left), then making a U-turn at the following corner, return to intersection, and turn right.

Note, to be sure, there are no posted signs anywhere forbidding this. (That is, nothing similar to “No thru traffic.”) I don’t know of anyone getting cited for this, and I don’t know that anyone ever will. But is that something the cops could do?

Something very similar happened in my parents’ neighborhood: a very short street connected two otherwise unconnected sections of the neighborhood. (Ok, not entirely, but the next connection required quite a detour for most people.) Eventually, a “no through traffic” sign was erected.

“I LIVE in this neighborhood, dammit,” I sez to myself. (Well, I did at the time.) Who’s to stop me?

The cop the city posted, that’s who. :eek:

He admitted that he was only able to give people warnings - the sign was not officially enforceable. Not long after that, the sign was take down entirely.
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