People have been wondering about the failure to show due care for an emergency vehicle or the “Move Over Law” in the State of New York and how it could get you a ticket. But what is it actually? When would it be an offense to not move over and what are the potential fines that you might face?
When you are driving, how can you remember to ‘Move Over?’ Think of it this way, if there are lights flashing, slow down and move to a lane that is farthest away from the blinking lights, if it is safe for you to do so.
Here is the law from the NY State Police website, originally the Ambrose-Searles Move Over Act from 2012 and then updated in November of 2016:
The law protects enforcement officers, emergency workers, tow and service vehicle operators and other maintenance workers stopped along roadways while performing their duties.
Drivers must use due care when approaching an emergency vehicle that displays red and/or white emergency lighting:
• On all roads and highways, drivers must reduce speed;
• On Parkways and other controlled access highways with multiple lanes, when approaching an emergency vehicle that displays red and/or white emergency lighting or a hazard vehicle displaying flashing amber lighting, drivers must move from the lane immediately adjacent to the emergency or hazard vehicle, unless traffic or other hazards exist to prevent doing so safely.
In 2016, the law was expanded to include tow trucks, construction and highway maintenance vehicles, garbage and recycling trucks to name a few.
Here are a few things that you can be charged for if you fail to “Move Over” along with the potential points that can be tacked on to your license:
• Failure to Yield the Right of Way (3 Points)
• Improper Passing (3 Points)
• Unsafe Lane Change (3 Points)
• Reckless Driving (5
• Speeding (3-11 points depending on the speed)
It is now imperative in most cases for motorists charged with a violation of this new law to seriously consider hiring an attorney for representation. Unlike most other tickets, some prosecuting authorities are refusing to extend a plea offer involving violations of the statute at a pretrial conference; opting instead to set the matter down for trial and appearance by the Trooper. And at least one Trooper that your author is aware of, refuses to reduce this charge under any circumstances, necessitating a traffic trial. Few laypersons are equipped with the requisite knowledge to effectively represent themselves in this situation and the assessment of a fine, surcharge, and points assessed on their license is a virtual certainty. A competent attorney, such as Mark Fluery, can require the prosecution and officer to establish each and every element of the offense charged and that none of the multiple exceptions to this new law applies to the motorist in the fact pattern of this particular case, a strategy that is usually successful.