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Yes, it's illegal to cut through a gas station to avoid a red light

Is it illegal to cut through a parking lot or gas station to avoid stopping at a red light? Our Verify team gets the answers.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — We’ve all been there. You’re sitting at a red light waiting to turn at an intersection when you spot a gas station you could cut through.

A viral video on TikTok says it's actually illegal to cut through a parking lot or gas station to bypass a red light.

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 Is it illegal to cut through a parking lot or gas station to avoid a red light?



Yes, it is illegal to cut through a parking lot or gas station to avoid a red light.

This is true.


According to North Carolina state law, when drivers approach a red light they have to come to a complete stop and may not enter the intersection.

Mauney said if a driver cuts through a parking lot before a red light, this means the driver did not come to a complete stop and thus is in violation of the state statute. 

“Anything that’s not you stopping at a stop sign before you proceed to the intersection violates the statute,” Mauney said. “So even though it doesn't say [you] can't go through that side parking lot right there, it says what you're supposed to do.”

Mauney said some states have enacted a more specific law to eliminate all confusion, but North Carolina has not done that yet.

“I would suggest that the reason that the legislature hasn't done that is because come on, everybody knows you're not supposed to cut through the parking lot," he said. 

While the state hasn't gotten that specific, the city of Charlotte has an ordinance. According to Section 14-128, a driver traveling from one street to an intersecting street must pass through the intersection.

Any other path, for example, cutting through a parking lot, is a violation of the ordinance.

And by the way, the Charlotte ordinance also says if the driver doesn’t actually stop at a business while passing through its parking lot, it’s presumed that the driver is intending to break the law.



VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit VERIFY.

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