Move Over Laws

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In many states, and countries, around the world, a move over law is in place to help first responders do their jobs safely. To learn more about move over laws in the United States, check out the information that we have gathered below.

What is a Move Over Law?

By definition, a move over law is a law that requires drivers to change lanes, which will give safe clearance to first responder vehicles in the field. According to this law, a first responder vehicle may be a police vehicle, fire truck, or ambulance. However, some states also encompass other types of vehicles under this law. Drivers must do this as soon as they notice an emergency vehicle with sirens or flashing lights approaching. By definition, other motorists must move at least one lane away from emergency vehicles, but only if driving on a multi-lane road.

If a driver cannot move over to another lane, the law requires that drivers slow down to a speed less than the stated speed limit. In every state, it is important to realize that a driver should only move to the right if it is safe to do so. Drivers who move to the right at high rates of speed or pull onto dangerous terrain are actually putting everyone on the road in more danger. For this reason, most Move Over Laws in the United States also include a slowdown alternative to pulling all the way to the right.

Why it is important to move over on the Road?

Move Over Laws are important because they help first responders and utility truck drivers stay safer on the road. According to the FBI, being struck or killed by another vehicle on the road leads to many law enforcement deaths in the field. Supporters of the Move Over Law often make it a point to remind drivers that if they follow the law; others will too. Every driver that follows the law is making the jobs of first responders and utility vehicle drivers safer on the road. Furthermore, when first responders and utility vehicle drivers can get to where they are going safer and quicker, everyone is safer on the road as a result.

Why were Move Over Laws Created?

Move Over Laws in the United States were created in honor of Paramedic James D. Garcia. Garcia was a Lexington, South Carolina first responder who was struck and injured in the line of duty on January 28, 1994. After the accident, Garcia was faulted for causing the accident, which resulted in other first responders working to create a law that protected first responders from this type of injustice. Eventually, the law was passed in 1996 and was later revised, in 2002. From 1996 to 2000, a series of similar events took place all across the United States. This phenomenon caught the attention of the US Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration and led to improved standards and protection for first responders. Shortly later, Move Over Laws became prevalent across the United States and in some parts of Canada as well.

Fines and Punishments associated with Move Over Laws

Every state in the US has Move Over Laws, but not all states enforce, fine, or punish drivers who break these laws in the same manner. Instead, the ways these laws are enforced is dependent upon state statutes. Other circumstances such as whether an accident occurred and whether the offending driver is a first or consecutive offender can also influence how the court system in a particular state will prosecute the driver.

50 States have Move Over Laws

In the United States, Move Over Laws are very popular. In fact, 50 of the 50 states abide and enforce Move Over Laws. The final state to enforce the program was Hawaii who passed the law in July 2012. Below, we have gathered information about several states and how they enforce and utilize the Move Over Law in their state.

State Law Passed Fine Amount up to: Applies To Notes
Alabama 2009 $25 - $100 emergency vehicles including wreckers using visual warning lights  
Alaska 2005 $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 2005   first responder, emergency responder, and utility drivers  
Arkansas 2003   law enforcement, emergency vehicles, and all first responders  
California 2007 $50.00 law enforcement, emergency responders, and first responders, Tow Truck Drivers Does not apply to vehicles stationed on the side of the road and protected by a physical barrier
Colorado 2005   first responder, emergency responder, and tow trucks Violators will be cited with a Class A traffic misdemeanor
Connecticut 2009 $2,500 to $10,000 law enforcement, emergency vehicles, tow trucks, and first responder vehicles  
Delaware 2003   police, emergency vehicles, tow trucks Violators of the law can be charged with a Class F felony
Florida 1999   tow trucks, first responder vehicles, and police Enforcement is especially aggressive each January
Georgia 2003 up to $500 emergency vehicle including tow trucks points on an offender’s license and a hefty fine
Hawaii 2012   all emergency vehicles including police Final state to enforce the Move Over Laws
Idaho 2006   police, emergency responders, and first responder vehicles  
Illinois 2005 up to $10,000 Emergency vehicle with Lights activated formerly known as Scott’s Law, in 2005
Indiana 2002   emergency vehicles, tow trucks, and utility vehicles Revised in 2010 to include utility and service vehicles
Iowa 2009 up to $100 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 2005   police, firefighters, and EMS, and tow trucks using audible or visual signals  
Kentucky 2005   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 2005 up to $200 law enforcement vehicles, first responders, and emergency vehicles  
Maine 2001 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 2010 usually over $100 police, emergency vehicles, first responders can also result in up to 2 points on an offender's driver license
Massachusetts 2009 up to $100 police, emergency vehicles, first responder vehicles, and tow trucks  
Michigan 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 2006     The law was passed in this state to honor fallen police officer Ted Moss
Missouri 2006   MoDot vehicles, first responders, emergency vehicles, and police vehicles revised in 2012 to include some Missouri Department of Transportation vehicles
Mississippi 2006 up to $200 police, emergency vehicles, tow trucks, utility crews  
Montana 2005   all first responder and emergency responder vehicles; as well as, tow trucks  
Nebraska 2009   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 2008   police, emergency vehicles, first responder vehicles, and tow trucks  
New Jersey 2009 $100 to $500 police vehicles, firefighters, EMS workers, and tow trucks The amount of fine is determined by a municipal judge.
New York 2011   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 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 last revised in 2012 up to $250 first responder vehicles and utility, construction, and tow truck drivers The Move Over Law originated in North Carolina
North Dakota 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 2000   police vehicles, firefighters, EMS workers, and tow trucks First infraction of this law is a misdemeanor. Subsequent infractions increase the intesity of the misdemeanor charges.
Oklahoma 2002   first responders and utility crews  
Oregon 2010   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 2006 up to $250 first responder vehicles and tow trucks also known as the “Steer Clear Law.”
Rhode Island   up to $85.00 police vehicles, firefighters, EMS workers, and tow trucks  
South Carolina 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 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 2003 $500 to $1,000 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 2003 $200 to $500 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 2002   first responder vehicles and tow trucks too An infraction of this law can result in the suspension of a driver's license for up to 90 days.
Vermont 2001   police vehicles, firefighters, EMS workers, and tow trucks Vermont uses signage to remind drivers of the Move Over Law on busy highways.
Virginia 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 2010 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       Currently, Washington, D.C., is one of the only areas in the United States that does not have a Move Over Law.
West Virginia 2005 up to $500 First responder and utility crew vehicles Persons found guilty of breaking this law in West Virgina can also face up to 60 days in jail.
Wyoming 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.

The Move Over America Campaign

Although many of the Move Over Laws mentioned above have been in effect for a very long time, many Americans still aren’t aware of their state’s Move Over Laws. Move Over America is a nation-wide campaign whose mission it is to spread the word about every state’s individual laws. The movement is supported by the National Sheriff’s Association, National Association of Police Officers, American Association of State Troopers, police officers, first responders, emergency personnel, and utility truck drivers all over the world.

Canadian Move Over Laws

As mentioned briefly above, Move Over Laws aren’t just enforced in the United States. In fact, there are many areas in Canada such as Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland ,Manitoba, Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nunavut,Manitoba Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan have Move Over Laws.

Motorists are Responsible for Knowing and Understanding their State’s Move Over Laws

It is important to note that these laws could change at any time. For this reason, it is imperative that every driver know and understand the Move Over Laws in their state. Since simply not knowing or understanding a particular law is not an excuse for breaking the law, it is imperative that every driver due their best to stay abreast of any laws that can affect their behavior on the road.

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