Ohio's Laws About 4-Way Stop Signs

Stop Traffic Sign  On Country Road
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In all states, including Ohio, two- and four-way stop signs are meant to make motorists, cyclists and pedestrians safer by decreasing the probability and number of traffic accidents caused by drivers that move too quickly or are not paying attention. These traffic laws not only govern how cars approach a stop sign, but also show how they should approach when school buses or emergency vehicles are in the mix.

Stopping at a Stop Sign in Ohio

Drivers approaching a stop sign in Ohio must fully stop, unless they are otherwise directed to keep going by a law enforcement officer. Drivers approaching a stop sign must stop at the stop line, which should be clearly marked if there is one. If there is no stop line, the driver must stop before entering the crosswalk on the intersection’s near side.

If there is no crosswalk, drivers should stop at the point nearest to the intersecting roadway where they can see approaching traffic and use their judgment before entering.

Rules of the Road at Intersections

A driver must give the right of way to a car already in the intersection or approaching from another road so closely as to be a potential and immediate danger while they are moving within or across an intersection or roadway junction. Drivers should always come to a full stop at an intersection and not roll through it.

Right-of-way Rule in Ohio

Ohio defines the term right of way as the right of a vehicle or pedestrian to proceed legally and uninterruptedly in the direction in which they are moving in preference to another party in their path.

Who Goes First?

When two drivers approach or enter an intersection at approximately the same time from different roads, the driver on the left must yield to the driver on the right, allowing them to pass first.

If four drivers show up at a 4-way stop at about the same time, the drivers should go in the order that they arrived. No matter who shows up at the stop sign first, all drivers must come to a complete stop whenever they’re at an intersection and must allow pedestrians to cross before proceeding. Under Ohio law, bicyclists must follow the same rules that vehicles follow.

School Buses and Stop Signs

Drivers who meet or overtake a school bus that is stopped to pick up or drop off children attending school; a person attending community board of mental health programs or county boards of developmental disabilities programs; or a child going to and from a Head Start program must stop a minimum of 10 feet from the bus’ front or rear.

They should not proceed until the bus resumes motion or they are signaled by the bus driver to do so. If the driver does not stop, they cannot use the failure of the school bus to display its warning lights or stop signal as a defense.

Bus Warning Lights

Ohio school buses have amber and red visual signals that flash when they stop and a stop sign that extends from the bus.

These are activated by the bus driver whenever they stop or are in the process of stopping to pick up or drop off a child attending school; a person attending community boards of mental health programs or county boards of developmental disabilities programs; or a child going to and from a Head Start program.

Emergency Vehicles and Stop Signs

Emergency vehicles have slightly different rules regarding stop signs. When responding to an emergency, a person driving an emergency or public safety vehicle that is approaching a stop sign does not have to fully stop. However, they must slow down, proceed with caution or otherwise signal when approaching for the safety of other drivers and pedestrians in their path.

Conversely, drivers of non-emergency vehicles must not proceed straight through a stop sign or traffic light when an emergency vehicle comes from behind. If the emergency vehicle travels toward the stop sign or traffic light from the opposite direction of a divided street or highway street, the driver of the non-emergency vehicle does not need to pull over.

Offenses for Violating Stop Sign Laws

Much like a traffic light violation, a stop sign violation in Ohio is a minor misdemeanor offense. However, its classification depends on how many previous traffic offenses a driver has and when they occurred. If, within a year of their first offense, a driver is convicted or has pleaded guilty to another traffic or motor vehicle offense, their stop sign violation becomes a fourth-degree misdemeanor.

If within a year of their first offense, a driver is convicted or pleaded guilty to two or more traffic or motor vehicle offenses, their stop sign violation becomes a third-degree misdemeanor.

Penalties for Violating Stop Sign Laws

The penalties for violating stop sign laws in Ohio are:

  • Maximum fine of $150; maximum 30 hours of community service, plus court costs for a minor misdemeanor.
  • Maximum fine of $250; maximum 30-day jail term, alternative or additional community control sanction, plus reimbursement for the sanction cost and court costs for a fourth-degree misdemeanor.
  • Maximum fine of $500; maximum 60-day jail term, alternative or additional community control sanction, plus reimbursement for the sanction cost and court costs for a third-degree misdemeanor.

Community control sanctions may include community service, drug and alcohol testing and treatment, house arrest, probation, residential placement, or specified education or training.

In some instances, the court may order the driver to pay restitution to a victim who has suffered financial loss due to the violation. A traffic ticket conviction, including a stop sign violation, adds two points to a driver’s record in Ohio.