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Can I run red lights in an emergency?

A red traffic light. Stock photo by Getty Images

If your wife’s in labour or your child is sick, you probably don’t want to sit and wait at a red light. However, it’s never legal for you to flout traffic laws, even in an emergency.

Police don’t know why you’re speeding or running lights, and will pull you over. And they might give you a break, but you’re not legally entitled to one.

Some people have different concepts of what constitutes an emergency too. In June 2015, a Nova Scotia teen was busted driving more than 50km/h over the limit because she was late for school. 

Even legitimate medical emergencies aren’t an excuse. In 2011, a panicked Winnipeg man was caught driving to a hospital at 170 km/h while his pregnant wife experienced contractions and bleeding. An RCMP officer pulled him over for a 15-minute stop and a $1,000 ticket. In court, a justice of the peace wouldn’t drop the ticket, but lowered the fine to $400. Three months later, the driver lost his licence.

In those cases, authorities say you should call an ambulance, or even police or firefighters that have first-aid training. Also, an ambulance is far better equipped to handle a patient en route.