Move Over Law in NY | VTL 1144-a

On November 1, 2016, the New York Move Over Law was expanded. It now requires drivers to slow down and move over for police and emergency vehicles (including ambulance workers and firefighters), hazard vehicles like tow trucks that display amber lights, roadway construction crews, roadway maintenance crews, and, most recently, sanitation vehicles. For the latter, the law now specifies that drivers must provide sanitation workers with a buffer of about 50 feet. 

Have a question about your Move Over Law ticket? Call 888-883-5529 to speak to an attorney now or post a comment at the bottom of this page and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Background Information

The offense is called “failing to move over for emergency vehicles and hazard vehicles” and is codified in VTL 1144-a.

What New York drivers really need to know is if you are in an adjacent lane, you too must move over. Failing to do this, even from an adjacent lane could result in a violation of VTL 1144-a. New York State Police enforce the law “vigorously” and issue hundreds of tickets each year.

The New York Move Over Law (VTL 1144-a) is considered a moving violation that is punishable by 3 points on your license and a fine of up to $275. Often (but not always), a driver who is stopped and ticketed for this will also be hit with other tickets such as:

  • Failure to Yield the Right of Way (3 Points)
  • Improper Passing (3 Points)
  • Unsafe Lane Change (3 Points)
  • Reckless Driving (5 Points)
  • Speeding (3-11 points depending on the speed)

Remember, receiving 6 points within 18 months will require you to pay an additional fine called a “Driver Responsibility Assessment” and racking up 11 points within 18 months will result in the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suspending your license.

CLICK HERE - Official Text of New York's Move-Over Law

Official Text of the Move-Over Law

New York Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) 1144-a.

The driver of every vehicle shall, consistent with the requirements of subdivision (a) of this section, drive at an appropriate reduced speed when approaching and crossing an intersection or railway grade crossing, when approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hill crest, when approaching and passing by an emergency situation involving any authorized emergency vehicle which is parked, stopped or standing on a highway and which is displaying one or more red or combination red, white, and/or blue lights pursuant to the provisions of paragraph two and subparagraph b of paragraph four of subdivision forty-one of section three hundred seventy-five of this chapter, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, and when any special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians, sanitation workers, or other traffic by reason of weather or highway conditions, including, but not limited to a highway construction or maintenance work area.


Common Defenses to VTL 1144-a, The Move Over Law

There are a couple solid defenses that a skilled attorney can use to help you get out of a move over law ticket.

First, NY law prohibits a driver from moving over or changing lanes unless he or she first finds it safe to do so. Consequently, your first line of defense against a move over law ticket is to cite NY VTL 1128, which expresses this idea, and to explain how and why moving over would have been unsafe for you to do.

Remember, the wording of the lane change law (NY VTL 1128) reveals that the burden is on you as the driver to determine whether it would be safe to change lanes or not. In other words, this is not an objective standard that can be evaluated by the officer looking to what an objectively reasonable and prudent person would have done. This subjectivity gives you the upper hand and makes it harder for a prosecutor to say it would have been reasonable to move over.

Additionally, if it would have been safe for you to move over, but you simply did not have enough time to do so, then you can raise that as a defense against a move over law ticket. This too requires your lawyer to cite and explain NY VTL 1128.

Second, if moving over would have forced you to cross over a double yellow line, then you cannot have been expected to do so and your ticket will not stand. After all, NY VTL 1110 requires you to obey traffic control devices. These include the laws pertaining to road markings, signs, and road lines.

Ultimately, these two statutes, NY VTL 1128 and NY VTL 1110, can be your strongest arguments to use against a NY move over law ticket.

Case Law Analysis

In the 2013 case Despian v. Garcia, the Supreme Court of New York heard a case involving a Honda minivan and two police cars that were involved in a collision. The driver of the Honda minivan struck one of the patrol cars, which caused the patrol car to spin out of control and collide with a nearby unmarked police vehicle.

Although the court was mostly dealing with a civil case of negligence, the court in dicta brought forth an interesting piece of information concerning the NY Move Over Law.

Toward the end of the opinion, and after quoting the Move Over Law in full, the court explained that the driver “has not submitted any evidence that he took any of the actions required by section 1144, when he admittedly heard the siren and saw the lights of the approaching emergency vehicle.” Despian v. Garcia, 2013 NY Slip Op 30520 – NY: Supreme Court 2013.

Afterward, the court ruled that the driver’s failure to bring forth this evidence showed that he could have been negligent in his actions.

For you as a NY driver this is important. According to this case, if you fail to obey the Move Over Law, a court can find you negligent. After all, failing to adhere to a traffic law could be grounds for the breach of a duty that you owed to other drivers. Presuming you caused damage or an injury to another person, you very well—like the driver in Despian—might be negligent.

What does this mean for you? Be careful! If you get a ticket for violating the VTL 1144, it is absolutely vital for you to: 1) provide concrete evidence of how you, in actuality, complied with the statute (i.e. you did move over at the right time) or 2) provide a good defense for why it would have been dangerous or even unlawful for you to move over.

Despian is a clarion call for all NY drivers. It not only warns us that our violation of the Move Over law can be enough to keep a negligence lawsuit against alive, but also that traffic ticket violations can be used against us in a different legal arena entirely: civil negligence cases.

Who Should You Contact?

If you recently received a New York traffic ticket, contact an attorney right away. The attorneys of the Rosenblum Law Firm have years of experience fighting traffic tickets, negotiating with prosecutors, and getting the results you are looking for. E-mail or call today at 888-883-5529.

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  • Elliott Retkowski
    July 10, 2017

    A State Trooper was giving someone a ticket on I-86 and I moved over hundreds of feet in advance before passing them however a car similar to mine did not. Several miles down the road the officer caught up to me and pulled me over thinking I was the car that did not move over and gave me a citation. I tried to explain but she was angry and didn’t give me barely any chance to talk. I want to plead not guilty on the form and send it back but I’m afraid I will not be believed and then have to go to court. What do I do? I feel violated and want justice to be upheld here.

    • RLF Attorneys
      July 14, 2017

      While you may contest this ticket, these violations are inherently difficult. Many courts do not plea bargain these matters to parking tickets. Additionally, officers are likely to recount (albiet incorrectly), the events that transpired. You may contact us at 888-883-5529 for a free consultation. I will be happy to provide you informateion more specifiic to your case.

  • Wendy Gockley
    July 6, 2017

    My son was driving in NY (we are from PA) he was on vacation with his girlfriend. We are not familiar with this law in PA. We typically don’t slow to 20 mph and get in the other lane. We may “go around the office and if anyone else is pulled over. Ambulances or approaching emergency vehicles we ALWAYS pull over. My question is my son did slow passing the officer but did not feel safe taking his eyes off the officer to change lanes and was not able to determine the safety in changing lanes with any approaching vehicles coming up his left (he was on a highway). Given if he pleads guilty how much is the fine and how does this affect his license and our insurance in PA? Thank you so much for guidance!

    • RLF Attorneys
      July 19, 2017

      Wendy – If your son received a violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law 1144(a), he is facing 3 points. If he was issued a ticket under code 1144(a)(a), he is looking at 2 points. This ticket carries a standard fine of $150 plus a $93 administrative fee is he pleads guilty. The violation would then transfer to Pennsylvania, as both states are part of an agreement to share information about traffic tickets. As a result, your insurance may increase.

  • Prosa
    June 21, 2017

    Hey, I got a VTL 1144-AA when I was traveling from NY to Virginia. I pleaded guilty to the ticket and I just got a mail from the Milford court asking for a fine of 243$. The ticket was on my foreign driving license (country outside of US) and I was driving a rental car. The letter says that failure to pay the amount will lead to suspension of my license. Does non payment of this fine lead to any serious trouble for me? I don’t have a US state license as of now and am planning to get a US State license next month.

    • RLF Attorneys
      June 27, 2017

      I suggest you pay this fine to avoid any issues with your license in the future.

  • Michelle Dragone
    June 17, 2017

    I turned left onto Edgewood Ave. in St. James, NY and was heading south to pick up my grandson at the Middle School located on Edgewood. Edgewood Ave is a two lane road, one lane going south the other, north. There are NO shoulders on either side of the road. Traffic was moving slowly as everyone was picking up their kids from school and there we lots of school busses on the road. I looked in my rear view mirror and the vehicle behind me had just turned on his flashing lights. I wasn’t sure what to do so I decided to slowly move down the road until I saw a spot with enough grass to pull off the road. The police officer then put on his siren and sped around me….went about 1000 feet to a stopped vehicle at the entrance of the school parking lot. The vehicle appeared to be waiting for the officer and was apparently getting a ticket from him. As I approached the Entrance of the school, the police officer stopped me, proceeded to yell at me for not yielding to an emergency vehicle, and told me to pull into the school entrance. He now had me and the other car in the entrance driveway and proceeded to give the other car a ticket (have no clue what that guy did) and then gave me a ticket too. At that point I had two thirteen year old’s in the back seat. I am 74 years old and he scared the heck out of me with his nastiness.

    • RLF Attorneys
      June 27, 2017

      Michelle – if you are interested in contesting this 2 / 3 point violation, please contact us at 888-883-5529.

  • Nills
    June 14, 2017

    I received a ticket for violating 1144-a. The officer had lights on and no car was pulled over. There was no vehicles in other lane. The officer was inside his vehicle. I did slow down in the 65mile/hr zone to 45m/hr. It was a curved in the highway, I didn’t notice him so I only slow down. He pulled me over after that, his second question he asked ” do you have weapons or drugs in the car ? “.
    This was on 07/29/2016. I went to court date, but I was told, that I need to pay 500 and accept the points or go to trial. I am still waiting for my Trial date. This was on Sloatsburg village court.
    I have a NJ driver license.

    • RLF Attorneys
      June 14, 2017

      Nills – Are there any specific questions you have for us?