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Move Over Law in North Carolina

First responders and various utility workers have tough jobs. Their jobs are made even harder by the fact that many people refuse to slow down and move over when they are on the side of the road performing their duties. Here, we want to discuss the “Move Over Law” in North Carolina. Specifically, we want to focus on what the language of the law says as well as what you are required to do if you see emergency or utility personnel with their emergency lights flashing on the side of the road.

North Carolina Has Had a Move Over Law Since 2002

In January of 2002, the North Carolina legislature took measures to protect law enforcement officials and other emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road. The state’s “Move Over Law” changed the dynamics on the roadway between traditional vehicles and emergency vehicles, particularly when these emergency vehicles are on the side of the road carrying out their official duties with their emergency lights activated. The types of vehicles included in this law are:

  • Law enforcement vehicles
  • Fire department vehicles
  • Public or private ambulances or rescue vehicles
  • Public or private highway maintenance vehicles
  • Tow trucks responding to accidents or disabled vehicles
  • Public utility vehicles
  • Garbage collecting vehicles

Under G.S. 20-157 (f), motorists are required to pull into a lane that is not the lane closest to a parked or standing authorized emergency vehicle or utility vehicle. Motorists must continue traveling in that lane until they are safely clear of the emergency vehicle. This portion of the law applies when the road has at least two lanes for traffic moving in the same direction and if a lane change can occur without interfering with other vehicle traffic.

If a roadway only has one lane going in the direction approaching the emergency vehicle, or if it is not possible to change lanes, motorists are required to slow their vehicle, maintain a safe speed, and be prepared to completely stop if necessary when approaching the authorized emergency vehicle or utility vehicle.

Penalties for Violating North Carolina’s Move Over Law

As of December 1, 2019, there are increased penalties for violating North Carolina’s Move Over Law if a violation causes a serious accident.

Under the original law, violating the Move Over Law was punishable by a $250 fine, plus court costs. This original fine is still in place for a regular violation. However, if a violation of this law leads to an accident that causes injuries or property damage, a driver could be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor and subject to a $500 fine. Additionally, this type of offense carries a maximum penalty of 120 days in jail.

Revisions to this law mean that a person could face a Class F felony offense if they fail to comply with the Move Over Law and cause severe injury or death to a law enforcement officer, a firefighter, an emergency vehicle operator, or a utility worker. Class 4 felony offenses are punishable by 10 to 41 months in prison. Any driver found to have caused severe injury or death to an emergency responder in violation of this law could lose their license for up to six months.

Additionally, violations of the North Carolina Move Over Law will result in three points against a person’s license, which could significantly increase their insurance premiums for a number of years after the violation occurs.

Call our Raleigh car accident lawyers today.