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Is It the Law to Move Over for Stopped Emergency Vehicles?

If you're driving and see an emergency vehicle with lights flashing on the roadway, you are required, under New York law, to slow down and move over. The law protects emergency workers from getting hurt while doing their jobs. A move over violation can be penalized by fines and driver's license points. It can also result in additional fees and increased insurance premiums. To seek to avoid penalties and other consequences, you can challenge your citation by pleading not guilty to the offense and having the matter heard in court. Going through the justice system can be daunting, but a defense attorney can guide you through your case and help pursue a favorable result.

Accused of a traffic violation? Call Martin A. Kron & Associates, P.C. at (212) 235-1525 or contact us online. We help the people of New York fight their tickets.

What's the Move Over Law?

The move over law isn't the law requiring drivers to pull to the right-hand edge of a curb when an emergency vehicle is behind them. That's the yield for approaching emergency vehicles law (New York Vehicle and Traffic Code § 1144).

The move over law under Vehicle and Traffic Code § 1144-A requires drivers to slow down and move to a different lane when they see a stopped or parked emergency or hazard vehicle on the side of the road when that vehicle's lights are activated.

Emergency vehicles include:

  • Police cars,
  • Ambulances,
  • Fire trucks,
  • Tow trucks, and
  • Construction and maintenance vehicles.

Drivers must slow down and move over the moment they see the lights, workers in vests, or signs indicating that responders are at work. More specifically, drivers should change lanes so that they are not in a lane directly adjacent to the one the emergency vehicle is in. In other words, there should be one empty lane between the driver's car and the emergency vehicle.

The purpose of slowing and moving over is to prevent collisions with emergency workers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, between 2003 and 2013, 138 law enforcement officers were fatally struck by cars driving passed while the officer was on the road. An empty lane between the passing vehicles and emergency workers allows responders to work safely.

What If a Driver Can't Move Over?

The law requires drivers to move over only when it is safe. They do not have to move over if they would be violating a lane change law or the other lane is occupied by another vehicle.

In situations where moving over isn't possible, the driver should slow down until they pass the emergency or hazard.

What Are the Consequences of Not Moving Over?

Every state has a move over law. However, the NHTSA reports that 71% of Americans aren't aware of their existence.

But ignorance of the law does not create an exemption from it. If someone does not move over when passing an emergency vehicle, a police officer can issue a ticket.

A conviction can result in a fine ranging from $150 to $450. It can also lead to an assessment of 2 to 3 points on a person's driving record. Depending on the person's history, points accumulation can lead to driver's license suspension and an additional Driver Responsibility Assessment fee of at least $300.

Failing to move over is a moving violation, which means it could affect insurance premiums. Rates can go up by hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

How Can a Move Over Ticket Be Challenged?

A driver may be convicted of a move over violation if the court finds that they did not exercise due care when passing an emergency or hazard vehicle. Still, defenses can be raised to fight the ticket.

Possible arguments that can be made include:

  • Unsafe to move over: The driver may not have been able to change lanes because another vehicle or an object was in a non-adjacent lane.
  • Illegal lane change: The driver might not have been able to move over because they would have crossed a double yellow line.
  • No time to move over: The emergency vehicle might have been in a location where it was difficult for the driver to see. When the driver noticed the vehicle, workers, or signs, there might not have been enough time for them to change lanes safely.

What to Do If You Got a Ticket?

If you were cited for failing to move over, reach out to Martin A. Kron & Associates, P.C. We can assess your case and determine what defenses can be raised.

Schedule a consultation by calling us at (212) 235-1525 or submitting an online contact form.