Move Over Law impacting violators with fines up to and over $500

More than 18 years ago, Georgia enacted the Move Over Law requiring drivers to move over one lane, if possible, when an emergency vehicle on the side of the road displays emergency lights. The law applies to fire trucks, ambulances, police vehicles and any other emergency vehicle that might be stopped along the roadway.

If traffic is too congested to move over safely, the law requires drivers to slow down below the posted speed limit and be prepared to stop.

This little-known law was passed after a growing number of police, emergency technicians and DOT workers were being killed or critically injured during traffic stops, crash responses and highway construction projects.

All 50 states have some form of Move Over Law with fines up to a $1,000 or more. A few offer jail time to go with the fines.

In Georgia, drivers stopped in violation of the Move Over Law can be fined up to $500. But that can be a bit misleading. Individual municipalities can add additional fees to those paid to the state.

In July 2016, the Georgia General Assembly passed House Bill 767 adding utility service vehicles to the law. Violations for not moving over to accommodate utility trucks comes with a maximum $250 fine.

The problem is far from just a highway safety issue. The Duluth Police Department recently reported it has issued 161 citations to drivers within city limits who violated the Move Over law this year. This represents a 9% reduction from the same time last year.

“This law gives us, the officer, the opportunity to be safe while at the same time trying to protect the public while conducting our law enforcement business on the side of the road,” stated Duluth Officer Ted Sadowski. “A simple lane change (or slowing down) can make a big difference in keeping officers safe from serious injuries or even death.”

Being cited for this in Duluth will cost drivers more than $700 in fines and several points added onto the driver’s license, ultimately impacting auto insurance rates as well. The city sends $212 to the state of Georgia and keeps $456. Along with a few additional fees drivers can expect to pay $732 for failure to comply with the law in Duluth.

“Failure to obey the Move Over Law can lead to consequences far more serious than fines,” according to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. “According to FBI statistics, traffic crashes claim the lives of more police personnel than any other cause of death in the line of duty, including shootings.”