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An ordinance is a law or decree by a municipality, a local law. Usually ordinances forbid or restrict some type of activity. For example, § 4-03 of The Rules of the City for New York City states that, “vehicular traffic facing such signal [a steady red light] shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection and shall remain standing until an indication to proceed is shown. In other words, in New York City, no turn on red. 

Municipal governments can pass ordinances on matters that the state government allows to be regulated at the local level. The ordinance carries the state’s authority and has the same effect as a state statute

[Last updated in June of 2024 by the Wex Definitions Team]