North Carolina Move Over Law

A few weeks ago, Trooper Matt Mitchell from Madison, NC returned to work after being out for over a year after being hit by a car while on the job.

On September 11, 2012, Mitchell performed a routine traffic stop, pulling over a vehicle with expired tags. As Mitchell was approaching the driver’s side door, a second vehicle drifted off the road and hit him, throwing him 70 feet.

The driver who hit Mitchell was charged with a misdemeanor reckless driving and sentenced to one year probation and community service.

Drivers in North Carolina roadways are required, by law, to move over into a lane that is not nearest the parked emergency vehicle and continue in that lane until they are safely clear of the emergency vehicle. This applies only if the roadway has at least two lanes of traffic proceeding in the direction of the emergency vehicle. If there is only one lane of traffic proceeding in the direction of the emergency vehicle, drivers are to reduce their speed and be prepared to stop when passing an emergency vehicle with its lights on that is parked or standing within 12 feet of a roadway.

The North Carolina Move Over law is meant to protect all emergency service workers on roadways, in addition to police officers performing traffic stops. Emergency service vehicles include utility workers, whose vehicles typically have amber emergency lights.

Trooper Mitchell is an example of what could happen if such laws are ignored. In addition to facing a $250 fine, a motorist may be charged with a criminal charge instead of just a traffic ticket. The charge depends on the amount of damage and/or injuries or death that was a result of violating this “move over” law.

Merritt Webb extends our best wishes to Trooper Mitchell as he returns to his duties enforcing the law.

If you’ve been charged with a traffic violation or a crime, you should consider contacting an experienced attorney to determine how they can help you.

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