When you are on the road and come across an emergency vehicle with its lights on, you must slow down and move over. This law is there to keep emergency workers safe while they are on the job. If you don’t follow the move over law, you could face fines, points on your driver’s license, extra fees, and higher insurance costs. If you got a ticket for not moving over, don’t, panic, you may be able to get out of it.
You can fight it in court by pleading not guilty. This process might seem tough, but your local defense attorney can help you get a good outcome.
What is the Move Over Law?
This law is different from the one that tells drivers to pull over to the right when an emergency vehicle is coming up behind them. That’s yielding to approaching emergency vehicles law (New York Vehicle and Traffic Code § 1144).
The move over law, as per Vehicle and Traffic Code § 1144-A, requires you to slow down and change lanes when you see an emergency or hazard vehicle stopped or parked on the road’s side, with its lights turned on.
Such vehicles include:
- Police cars
- Construction and maintenance vehicles
- Fire trucks
- Tow trucks
You need to slow down and move over as soon as you see the lights, workers in vests, or signs that show responders are working. Specifically, you should not be in the lane right next to where the emergency vehicle is. There should be an empty lane between you and the emergency vehicle. The reason for the move over law is to avoid accidents with emergency workers. So, when you keep a lane empty between passing vehicles and emergency workers, it allows them to do their jobs safely.
I Got a Ticket for Not Moving Over
You need to either move over or slow down and try to move over. If you end up in court, you might be able to attend driving school to keep it off your record. So, get a lawyer to speak for you in court to ensure the best outcome.
There are defenses to breaking the “move over” law. For instance, if there’s traffic in the next lane and you can’t move over, just slowing down is okay and allowed by the law. It’s not easy to discuss the specifics of a case, so it’s hard to say if these defenses would work in your case. Generally, you can go to traffic court to fight a ticket, to avoid fines and points on your license. Sometimes, you can prove you didn’t break the law, or the court might let you take a driving class instead of paying fines and getting points. Again, the best option is to have a lawyer argue for you, though this can cost more than a class or a fine.
What Happens if You Don’t Move Over?
Every state has a move over law. But, the NHTSA says that one-third of Americans are not aware of these laws. Unfortunately, not knowing this law doesn’t mean you won’t get in trouble for breaking it. If you don’t move over for an emergency vehicle, a police officer can give you a ticket.
Usually, the cost of a mover over offense is a fine between $150 and $450. You could also get 2 to 3 points on your driving record. If you get too many points, you might lose your license and have to pay at least $300 extra in Driver Responsibility Assessment fees. Not moving over is a moving violation, so it can make your insurance rates go up a lot, maybe even by thousands of dollars.
How to Beat a Move Over Law Ticket
If you are accused of not moving over for an emergency or hazard vehicle, the court needs to believe you didn’t take enough care. But, you can still defend yourself against this ticket.
If you got a ticket for not moving over, here are some defenses you might use:
- No chance to move over in time. The emergency vehicle could have been hard to spot. By the time you saw it, it might have been too late to safely change lanes.
- It was unsafe to move over. Maybe you couldn’t change lanes because another car or something was in the way.
- Illegal to change lanes. Perhaps moving over would have meant crossing a solid double yellow line, which is against the law.
These are all unique arguments that may not apply to your situation. So, have an attorney assess your case to determine a good argument.
Conclusion—Got a Ticket for Not Moving Over
You only need to move over when it’s safe. You don’t have to if changing lanes would break another law or if there’s already a car in the next lane. If you can’t move over, just slow down until you are past the emergency or hazard. If you receive a ticket for not moving over, contact your local attorney to look into your situation and figure out what defenses might work for you.
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