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Emergency Vehicle Move over Laws

A law that has been on the books for many years seems to be getting fresh use by the police for pulling over vehicles. Police are using this relatively unknown law to stop vehicles and write tickets and check for drunk driving among other offenses.

In the transportation article section 21-405 it addresses "Operation of Vehicles on Approach of Emergency Vehicles."

Now some parts of this law are obvious and generally everybody knows them.

On the immediate approach of an emergency vehicle using audible and visual signals the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way;

On the immediate approach of an emergency vehicle using audible and visual signals the driver of every other vehicle shall immediately move to a position parallel to and close to the curb or edge of the road;

On the immediate approach of an emergency vehicle using audible and visual signals the driver shall stop and stay in this position until the emergency vehicle was passed. (Please note I am paraphrasing the statute and this is not exactly what it says but close enough for this blog post)

What is much more subtle and virtually unknown is what is the driver' s obligation when passing an emergency vehicle which is stopped and displaying any visual signal? The law states exactly as follows:

(1) if practicable and not otherwise prohibited, make a lane change into an available Lane not immediately adjacent to the emergency vehicle with due regard for safety and traffic conditions; or
(2) if the driver of the motor vehicle is unable to make a lane change in accordance with item (1) of this subsection, slow to a reasonable and prudent speed that is safe for existing weather, road, and the vehicular or pedestrian traffic conditions."

In plain English this means if you see a police car or other emergency vehicle on the side of the road with emergency lights on you should have at least one lane of traffic between you and that emergency vehicle or risk being pulled over and given a citation or worse.

The suggested fine is $110 and you get either one or two points for this moving violation. If you do get such a citation remember to ask for a trial (and not a hearing) in order to contest the charge.
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