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State Move Over Laws

Move Over Laws apply to two very different types of conditions regarding emergency vehicles that are displaying flashing emergency lights. Motorists are supposed to MOVE OVER ‘to the right’ and stop when they see flashing lights and hear sirens especially if it’s in the rear view mirror or at an intersection because a first responder vehicle is coming towards them and ‘needs’ to get through as quickly as possible. The second type of Move Over Law applies to motorists who see stationary flashing lights ahead of them in the same direction; they are to pull to the left at least one lane, two if possible, and slow down, alert and ready to receive addition driving instructions from the police. When motorists fail to follow Move Over Laws, they can be fined, they may hinder first responders who are trying to do their jobs. Worst, they could cause an accident which could cost lives.

Ambulance Lights, an article in our Knowledge Base, discusses the problems that many EMS providers face when trying to maneuver through traffic because motorists aren’t paying attention, don’t know what they are supposed to do, or don’t even realize that a first responder is trying to get through. AAA has a website that covers in great detail the second type of Move Over Laws for each of the 50 states including D.C., Canada, and Puerto Rico. There is no doubt that driving tests include questions about what to do in both of these situations, but whether motorists just forget that instruction, or simply missed those questions on the exam. By observing the driving patterns of motorists, one wonders if some motorists are aware that Move Over Laws even exist.

Move Over Laws: A long time in Coming

In 1996, a bill, the first of its kind, was passed in South Carolina to protect emergency responders when they were stopped on the side of the road. Prior to this law, a first responder was held at fault if struck by oncoming motorists for being too close to the side of the road. The necessity for the creation of Move Over Laws was realized when James D Garcia, a paramedic was deemed ‘at fault’ after being hit while helping a patient on the side of the road. After several such incidents around the U.S.A., in 2000, the Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Association began to discuss in earnest their concerns for the safety of first responders who were stopped assisting others. Finally, a national standard was achieved that year. Slowly over the following decade, each state followed suit, fine tuning the law to their own specifications. Hawaii passed legislation in July, 2012.

MOVE OVER LAWS in the 50 STATES

In the United States, today 50 of the 50 states abide and enforce Move Over Laws. Extreme Tactical Dynamics has gathered information regarding Move Over Laws in each state. AAA Digest of Motor Laws is the source of the statues. Almost every statue for each state begins: State law requires drivers approaching stationary emergency vehicles that are displaying flashing lights, traveling in the same direction, to vacate the lane closest….then each state modifies the law according to their own legislation.

State Law Law Passed Fine Amount up to: Applies To Notes
Alabama: ...if safe and possible to do so, or to slow to at least 15mph less than the posted speed limit. 2005 $25 - $100 emergency vehicles including wreckers using visual warning lights
Alaska: ...if safe and possible to do so, or to slow to a speed reasonable and prudent for traffic, road, and weather conditions. 2006 $150 for first time offenders and $250 for repeat offenders police, firefighters, EMS, and tow truck drivers Violators can be found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor
Arizona:..and requires drivers to reduce speed and, if safe to do so, vacate the lane closest 2005 first responder, emergency responder, and utility drivers
Arkansas:...to move to the farthest lane from the vehicle if safe and possible to do so, or to slow to a speed appropriate for road and weather conditions. 2003 $500...90 Days in Jail...7 days community service...90 days suspended license law enforcement, emergency vehicles, and all first responders
California:...to slow down 2007 $50.00 law enforcement, emergency responders, and first responders, Tow Truck Drivers This includes tow trucks and Caltrans vehicles if displaying flashing amber warning lights.
Colorado:...if safe and possible to do so, or to reduce to a speed safe for weather, road, and traffic conditions. 2005 first responder, emergency responder, and tow trucks Violators will be cited with a Class A traffic misdemeanor
Connecticut:...to reduce speed and, if safe and reasonable to do so 2009 $100 law enforcement, emergency vehicles, tow trucks, and first responder vehicles
Delaware:...required to move to a lane not adjacent to the vehicle and reduce speed. 2006 police, emergency vehicles, tow trucks Violators of the law can be charged with a Class F felony
Florida:..If such movement cannot be safely accomplished, the driver shall reduce speed. 2002 tow trucks, first responder vehicles, and police Enforcement is especially aggressive each January
Georgia:...if safe and possible to do so, or slow below the posted speed limit to a speed reasonable for road and traffic conditions. 2007 up to $500 emergency vehicle including tow trucks points on an offender’s license and a hefty fine
Hawaii:...if safe and possible to do so (and if possible move two lanes over), and slow to a speed that is safe, reasonable, and prudent. 2012 all emergency vehicles including police Final state to enforce the Move Over Laws
Idaho:...to slow down 2006 police, emergency responders, and first responder vehicles
Illinois:...if safe and possible to do so, or slow to a safe speed. 2005 up to $10,000 Emergency vehicle with Lights activated formerly known as Scott’s Law, in 2005
Indiana:...if safe and possible to do so, or reduce speed at least 10 mph below the speed limit. 2002 emergency vehicles, tow trucks, and utility vehicles Revised in 2010 to include utility and service vehicles
Iowa:...if safe and possible to do so, or slow to a reasonable speed for road and traffic conditions. 2002 up to $50 and court costs police vehicles, firefighters, EMS workers, and tow trucks If injury to another person occurs, the fine can be increased to $500
Kansas:...if safe and possible to do so, or slow to a speed safe for road, weather, and traffic conditions. 2000 Up to $180 police, firefighters, and EMS, and tow trucks using audible or visual signals
Kentucky:...if safe and possible to do so, or slow to a speed safe for road, weather, and traffic conditions. 2003 All emergency and utility vehicles This law doesn't alleviate the need for emergency vehicle drivers to do their part in staying safe on the road.
Louisiana:... if possible to do so, or slow to a reasonably safe speed. 2005 up to $200 law enforcement vehicles, first responders, and emergency vehicles
Maine:...if safe and possible to do so, or to slow to a safe and reasonable speed. 2005 up to $311 law enforcement, first responder, emergency vehicles, and tow trucks This law applies to tow trucks, but only wreckers that are at an accident scene to assist police or other first responders.
Maryland:..to change into a lane not immediately adjacent to the vehicle, if possible, or :to slow to a speed safe for weather, road, and traffic conditions. 2010 usually over $100 police, emergency vehicles, first responders can also result in up to 2 points on an offender's driver license
Massachusetts:...must slow down to a safe speed and, if practicable, move to a non-adjacent lane. 2009 up to $100 police, emergency vehicles, first responder vehicles, and tow trucks
Michigan:... if safe and possible to do so, or to slow to a speed safe for weather, road and traffic conditions. 2001 up to $500 tow trucks, police, first responder vehicles, and emergency vehicles In 2004, the laws were revised to include service and utility vehicles
Minnesota:...to reduce speed and, if safe to do so, vacate the lane closest 2006 The law was passed in this state to honor fallen police officer Ted Moss
Missouri:...if safe and possible to do so, or slow to a speed safe for road conditions. 2006 MoDot vehicles, first responders, emergency vehicles, and police vehicles revised in 2012 to include some Missouri Department of Transportation vehicles
Mississippi:...if safe and possible to do so, or slow to a speed safe for road conditions. 2007 up to $200 police, emergency vehicles, tow trucks, utility crews
Montana:..if safe and possible to do so, or slow to a safe speed. If on a highway with a speed limit 50mph or greater, the driver must slow by at least 20mph below the posted speed limit. 2005 all first responder and emergency responder vehicles; as well as, tow trucks
Nebraska:...to the vehicle or reduce speed and maintain a safe speed while passing the vehicle. If vacating the closest lane if not possible, a driver must slow to a safe speed. 2009 $100 all first responder and emergency responder, including tow truck, drivers The first violation of this law is a traffic infraction. Subsequent infractions are a Class IIIA misdemeanor.
New Hampshire:..

drivers approaching a crash or emergency area to slow to a safe speed and give wide berth

2008 police, emergency vehicles, first responder vehicles, and tow trucks
New Jersey:...must move over to a non-adjacent lane if possible, or slow down. 2009 $100 to $500 police vehicles, firefighters, EMS workers, and tow trucks The amount of fine is determined by a municipal judge.
New Mexico:...to reduce speed 2005 Including tow trucks
New York:...must exercise due care, include moving from a lane immediately adjacent, and reducing speed 2010 In New York, motorists must use caution when displaying red and white lights. This applies to fire trucks, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles, but it can also apply to any vehicle that uses amber lighting such as construction vehicles, tow trucks, or utility vehicles The Move Over Law in New York is a bit different than in other areas of the country
Nevada:...to reduce speed and, if safe and possible to do so, vacate the lane 2003 $395.00 emergency vehicles, police, tow trucks, or utility vehicles Violators can also have 4 points added to their driver's license.
North Carolina:...if safe and possible to do so, or slow to a safe speed. 2002 up to $250 first responder vehicles and utility, construction, and tow truck drivers The Move Over Law originated in North Carolina
North Dakota:... if safe and possible to do so, or slow to a safe speed. 2001 emergency vehicles including tow trucks, DOT maintenance vehicles This law also applies to first responders or utility workers who are physically walking on the side of the road.
Ohio:...to if safe and possible to do so, or slow to a speed safe for road, weather, and traffic conditions. 2000 police vehicles, firefighters, EMS workers, and tow trucks First infraction of this law is a misdemeanor. Subsequent infractions increase the intensity of the misdemeanor charges.
Oklahoma:...if safe and possible to do, or slow to a speed safe for road, weather, and traffic conditions. 2003 first responders and utility crews
Oregon:... if safe and possible to do so, or to reduce speed to at least 5 mph under the posted speed limit. 2003 law enforcement vehicles, emergency vehicles, first responder vehicles, road side assistance vehicle, or tow trucks Violators of this law can be charged with a class B traffic violation.
Pennsylvania:... to pass in a non-adjacent lane if safe and possible to do so, or slow to a safe speed. 2006 up to $250 first responder vehicles and tow trucks also known as the “Steer Clear Law.”
Rhode Island:..if safe and possible to do so, and slow to a safe speed. 2009 up to $85.00 police vehicles, firefighters, EMS workers, and tow trucks
South Carolina:...to reduce speed and, if safe to do so, vacate the lane closest 2002 up to $500 first responders, emergency responders, and tow trucks In South Carolina, a emergency responder vehicle is an vehicle contracting with the state or municipality to respond to traffic accidents.
South Dakota:.to reduce speed 2003 up to $200 first responder, emergency responder, and tow truck drivers A Class 2 misdemeanor under South Dakota law and is punishable by up to 60 days in jail.
Tennessee:...reduce to a speed safe for road conditions. 2003 $500 30 Days in Jail police, emergency vehicles, tow trucks, and utility drivers Tennessee’s Move Over Law that was revised July 1, 2013, makes it illegal to pass first responders or utility truck drivers working near the side of a road without moving at least one lane away.
Texas:...to reduce speed (not to exceed 20 mph less than a posted speed limit of 25 mph or more, or not more than five mpg when the posted speed limit under 25 mph) and vacate the lane closest to the emergency vehicles 2003 $200 police, emergency vehicles, first responders, and tow trucks If the infraction results in bodily harm, the driver can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor.
Utah:...to reduce speed and, if safe to do so, vacate the lane closest 2002 $250 first responder vehicles and tow trucks An infraction of this law can result in the suspension of a driver's license for up to 90 days.
Vermont:...to reduce speed and, if safe to do so, vacate the lane closest 2002 police vehicles, firefighters, EMS workers, and tow trucks Vermont uses signage to remind drivers of the Move Over Law on busy highways.
Virginia:...if safe to do so, or slow to a speed safe for highway conditions. 2002 police vehicles, firefighters, EMS workers, and tow trucks The first violation of this law is treated as a traffic infraction. However, any subsequent violations can carry misdemeanor charges.
Washington:...drivers are required to slow down and may not exceed the speed limit within 200 feet before and after a stationary emergency vehicle that has its flashing lights activated. 2005 A monetary fine will be assessed. all police, emergency and first responder vehicles, and tow trucks Fines are determined using state statute RCW 46.63.110.
Washington, D.C:

No Move Over Laws

Currently, Washington, D.C., is one of the only areas in the United States that does not have a Move Over Law.
West Virginia:...to change to a non-adjacent lane if safe to do so, or to slow to no more than 15 mph on a non-divided highway or 25 mph on a divided highway. 2005 up to $500
60 Days in Jail
First responder and utility crew vehicles Persons found guilty of breaking this law in West Virginia can also face up to 60 days in jail.
Wisconsin:...and parked or standing on or within 12 feet of a roadway 2001 15 Day license suspension, $40 fine Emergency vehicles, roadside service vehicles, including tow trucks
Wyoming:...to merge into the lane farthest from the vehicle when traveling in the same direction, if safe to do so, or to slow to a speed that is 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit. 2001 police, fire, EMT, emergency vehicles, and tow trucks

*This information is provided "as is" and may not be completely accurate as state laws and fines change from time to time. Be sure and contact your State if you need additional information or for current applications.

MOVE OVER AMERICA CAMPAIGN

Although many of the Move Over Laws mentioned above have been in effect for a very long time, large numbers of American drivers still aren’t aware of their state’s Move Over Laws. Move Over America was founded in 2007 with the purpose to inform Americans about Move Over legislation in their states. It is a nation-wide campaign supported by the National Sheriff’s Association, National Association of Police Officers (NAPO), American Association of State Troopers, police officers, first responders, and emergency personnel. Since 1999, 213 officers have been killed because motorists did not obey the Move Over Law. It’s time for everyone to implement this law to save the lives of those who are dedicated to protecting ours.

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