Ask a Trooper: What are rules for blinking yellow lights?

Published 9:01 pm Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Ask a Trooper by Troy Christianson

Troy Christianson


Question: When turning left on a blinking yellow light, should one pull into the intersection?

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It seems like a blinking yellow should let at least one car through, but often cars will wait behind the line, negating the ability to move traffic through the intersection.


Answer: If you are preparing to turn left at a flashing yellow light you must enter the intersection with caution as oncoming traffic has a green light. Drivers are able to turn left after yielding to all oncoming traffic and to any pedestrians in the crosswalk. Drivers must wait for a safe gap in oncoming traffic before turning.

If a vehicle ahead of you is signaling for a left turn, slow down and prepare to stop. Do not enter the intersection in case the traffic light turns red as you might not be able to clear the intersection. This type of maneuver is against the law per Minnesota statue 169.15 Impeding traffic; intersection gridlock.

The intersection gridlock law applies specifically when entering an intersection at a traffic control light when traffic is already blocking the intersection due to a red light, train, etc. Entering the intersection in this case is against the law. When one direction of traffic is unable to proceed on a green light because vehicles on the cross road are stopped and blocking the lanes of traffic, it creates issues with the flow-of-traffic

You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober.  Help us drive Minnesota toward zero deaths.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson, Minnesota State Patrol, at 2900 48th St. NW, Rochester, MN 55901-5848; or reach him at

Troy Christianson is a sergeant with the Minnesota State Patrol.