I have had several people ask me recently about the “move over” law in North Carolina, which requires motorists to move their vehicle away from the lane closest to a parked emergency vehicle. This traffic law had recently been expanded to offer protection to utility work crews who work alongside moving traffic. It is an important traffic law that helps protect emergency personnel and work crews from passing traffic but there are many people that still do not fully understand what the law requires them to do.
The law, which is codified in N.C.G.S. 20-157(f), requires an approaching driver to do one of the following when an emergency vehicle or utility crew is parked within 12 feet of a roadway and is giving off a warning light:
1.) Move his/her vehicle into over one lane further from the parked vehicle if there are at least 2 lanes and it is safe to do so; OR
2.) Slow his/her vehicle to a safe speed for traffic conditions and be prepared to stop until completely past the parked vehicle if the roadway has only 1 lane or if the other lane has traffic prohibiting a lane change.
The punishment for violating this law can be quite severe. The violation carries a $250 fine plus court costs plus any resulting increase in insurance points. If significant damage is caused to the area of the emergency vehicle or if emergency personnel or utility crew members are injured, the person is charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. Serious injury or death caused by violating this statute can be punished by a Class I felony, along with a 6 month license suspension.
Contact Raleigh traffic attorney Matthew J. Golden today for a free consultation if you have been charged with a violation of this law. Matthew may be able to eliminate the insurance point increase if found guilty of this offense.