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How California's Move Over Law Works on Highways

A scene of a freeway in California with cars driving by.

If you are driving down the highway and notice an accident that is taking up a considerable amount of space, do you know what to do? If you don’t, then it is important to learn about California’s Move Over Law and what it entails, because if you recklessly drive past an emergency contained situation, you can potentially find yourself in some legal trouble and accrue some hefty fines.  

What is California’s Move Over Law?

According to Caltrans website, California’s Move Over Law requires drivers to move over a lane when they are approaching an area where there is a stopped emergency or maintenance vehicle with a flashing amber light. 

This law is initially designed to prevent highway workers, emergency first responders, and tow truck drivers from being killed or injured along California’s roads as they do their duty. The law is also meant to ensure the flow of traffic when there is a major accident on the highway and prevents additional accidents from occurring aside from the initial accident.  

Do Other States Have Move Over Laws?

The law has been widely adopted in the United States for its practicality and design. According to a preliminary investigation conducted by Caltran’s Research and Innovation division, states like Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin has fully adopted the Move Over Law. Meanwhile the remaining states are enforcing a version of the law to better suit their needs and preferences.  

When Did the Move Over Law Start?

The Move Over Law was enacted in 2009 for California, however, its origins can be traced back to January 1994 in Lexington, South Carolina, when a paramedic was struck by another driver when he was assisting an injured driver that had slid off the road. 

Ever since the incident, similar situations have arisen in the coming years and it wasn’t until the Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration had to address the issue and implement new operational measures and safety standards that protects emergency first responders and maintenance workers. 

Fast-forward to today, California and many other states are promoting a National “Move Over” day that educates drivers about the importance of the law and its existence. Surprisingly, according to a CalTrans press release, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 71% of Americans are not aware of the law and the penalties associated for the violation. As such, if you have been subjected to a Move Over Law ticket, it is vital that you pay it off before you get into more legal trouble. 

What is the Penalty for Disobeying the Move Over Law?

According to California Vehicle Code 21809, failure to appropriately switch lanes when approaching an emergency controlled area may result in an infraction and a fine that can range anywhere between $50 to $1000, depending on the severity of the violation. In addition, points may be issued onto your driving record and should you avoid paying the associated fines, additional fines and legal charges may be brought against you in the California court system.  

What Should I Do If I Was Ticketed For A Move Over Law Violation?

If you were ticketed for violating the Move Over Law in California, it is important that you pay the associated fines and court fees as soon as possible. If not, you risk gaining additional fees, court expenses, and possible legal trouble that will affect your driving privileges.  

However, if you believe you are subjected to an unlawful traffic stop and would like to seek legal representation of the matter, contact us today by calling (213) 927-3700 or filling our contact form to schedule a free consultation with our compassionate and talented legal team.

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