Law Office of Jack Kotchick

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New York's 'move over' law: What every driver should know

If you intend to drive anywhere in the state of New York, you need to be aware of the "Move Over" law.

In essence, the law requires motorists to be extra cautious when an emergency vehicle or maintenance vehicle (including a sanitation truck) is stopped by the side of the road or on the shoulder with flashing lights. Moving vehicles are required to slow down and move over one lane away from the stopped vehicle -- whether it is on the right or left -- unless doing so would be unsafe or violate other traffic laws.

What prompted the law?

The law was prompted by the deaths of law enforcement officers who were struck by passing vehicles while stopped on the side of the road, but it has been amended to include not only all vehicles belonging to first responders -- police cars, ambulances and fire trucks -- but also other vehicles that operate with flashing hazard lights, like tow trucks and utility and ground maintenance vehicles.

What are the penalties for a violation?

Law enforcement in New York has been aggressive about enforcing the Move Over law. If you are ticketed for failing to move out of the lane when approaching an emergency vehicle or other protected vehicle from the rear, you will be fined $150 and hit with two additional points on your license.

This is in addition to any other charges -- and drivers are often subjected to additional tickets for failing to yield, speeding and reckless driving. If that happens, you are looking at additional fines and more points on your license. Too many points, naturally, results in a suspended license.

Are there any possible defenses to a Move Over ticket?

Absolutely! The law is somewhat vague in that it requires you to move over only when it is safe to do so and doesn't violate traffic laws. That makes moving over a somewhat subjective decision, especially in heavy traffic. You may also have a defense if, for example, there was a double yellow line right where you needed to move over -- which would have required you to both violate safety rules and traffic rules.

If you've been accused of violating the Move Over law, don't plead guilty without a fight. Explore all your legal options instead.

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Law Office of Jack Kotchick

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