North Carolina’s “Move Over” Law

On September 12, 2012, a North Carolina Highway Patrolman was critically injured when he was struck in a construction zone on Highway 19. He was in the process of a traffic stop in a construction zone when a passing vehicle drifted to the right, striking him. Fortunately, the Patrolman survived.

North Carolina criminal lawyers and automobile accident attorney remind motorists that North Carolina has a “Move Over” law in its traffic code. The law is designed to protect law enforcement officers, emergency workers, road maintenance workers and utility personnel.

Slow and Move to the Left when Lights are Flashing

The Move Over law is listed in North Carolina Statute 20 157. The law requires motorists to slow down and move to the left of any scene in which law enforcement, fire department, emergency responders or utility workers are present. The motorist must move to the left lane if it is clear to do so and there is an available left lane.

Motorists are not required to move to the left on 2 lane roads, but must slow their vehicle and operate with caution in such situations. The law does not apply only to those situations where lights are flashing, but where sirens, horns, whistles or other audible signals are in use.

In addition, the rule of slowing and moving to the left does not merely apply to police and fire vehicles. Motorists must slow to protect road maintenance workers and utility workers.

Penalties for Failure to Comply with the Move Over Law

The penalties for failing to comply with the law can be harsh. A $250 fine plus court costs applies for failing to comply. A motorist is subject to a Class 1 misdemeanor conviction if property damage or personal injury occurs. If a person is seriously injured, the motorist is subject to a felony conviction and may have their license suspended for six months.

A Durham auto accident attorney will confirm that the financial consequences of violating the Move Over law will be substantially higher than the fines involved. Slowing and moving to the left of scenes where flashing lights or sirens is present not only makes economic sense, but it can help save lives or serious personal injury.

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