On Saturday, Oct. 16, drivers are being urged to exhibit additional caution around emergency vehicles as part of National Move Over Day. This recent annual event is designed to highlight an important but often overlooked traffic law.
Every state has its own version of the “Move Over” law, which requires drivers to exercise due care when passing emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road. New York’s “Move Over” law, VTL 1144-a(a), first took effect in 2011 and was updated in 2016. It requires drivers to move to the left and slow down whenever an emergency vehicle is parked on the side of the road with any combination of red, white, and blue emergency lights on. Vehicles this law applies to include:
- Police vehicles
- Ambulances or other medical transport
- Fire trucks
- Construction vehicles
- Tow trucks
- Sanitation vehicles
"This law was enacted for the safety of police officers, EMS personnel, and roadside construction workers,” said Adam Rosenblum, founding attorney at Rosenblum Law. “Due to that fact, courts and prosecutors tend to treat these violations harshly, and understandably so.”
Since the law was first enacted in New York, more than 100,000 people have been ticketed for failing to move over. In recent years, police have issued approximately 13,000 tickets for this offense each year. Despite this, many drivers know little or nothing about the law itself. A national poll by Mason Dixon Polling & Research revealed that 71 percent of Americans are unfamiliar with their state’s “Move Over” laws.
Even among those that are aware, many underestimate the seriousness of their actions. A nationwide survey by AAA this year found that 42 percent of drivers who do not comply with “Move Over” laws think their behavior is somewhat or not at all dangerous to roadside or emergency crews.
Unfortunately, they are mistaken. Former NYPD Officer Kent Ng said that far too many officers are hurt or killed just performing their basic duties.
“It happens a lot,” he said. “When I first started my career in law enforcement, I knew an officer who was investigating an accident on the Cross Island Parkway. He had set up reflective triangles and road flares. And yet, someone disregarded them and plowed right into him. His ankle was shattered. He was forced to retire after 18 years on the force.”
Drivers who violate the “Move Over” law in New York can be fined up to $150. They can also be sentenced to up to 15 days in jail. A conviction also counts for 2 points on a driver’s license. It’s also not uncommon for drivers to be ticketed for related offenses, such as speeding, failure to yield right of way, and reckless driving.
Those who strike a person can be charged with serious criminal charges, including reckless endangerment and vehicular manslaughter.
If you or a loved one has received a ticket for violating New York’s “Move Over” law or any other traffic offense, it is essential that you retain an attorney. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law have the experience and knowledge to get the results you want. E-mail or call 888-883-5529 for a free consultation about your case.