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North Carolina “Move Over” Law: Do I Have to Move Over for Police Cars?

Riddle Brantley LLP   |  January 29, 2019   |  

The “Move Over” law in North Carolina requires motorists to move their vehicles away from the lane closest to a parked law enforcement or emergency vehicles.  This law has also been updated to include protection to utility work crews and tow trucks who are working on the side of the road. This law helps protect emergency personnel and work crews from passing traffic.

What is the “Move Over” law in North Carolina?

The statue states that motorists must change lanes or slow down when they see an emergency vehicle, state trooper, other law enforcement, or utility crews stopped on the shoulder of the road with its lights flashing. Utility vehicles are required to have a flashing amber light.  Utility and service vehicles protected in this expanded law include electric, cable, telephone, gas and all state vehicles emitting an amber light.  The statute is North Carolina General Statute 20-157.

North Carolina Move Over Law - Do You Have to Move Over for Utility Vehicles

Drivers are required to move over to another lane away from the emergency or utility vehicle if there are enough lanes on the highway to do so or to simply slow down if it is a two-lane road.  This will help avoid any secondary car accidents.  Motorists are required to maintain a safe speed while moving into another lane.

This law is important because secondary accidents may be even more deadly than the first accident which they follow.  Moreover, people are usually out of their vehicles while on the shoulder of the road, whether they are emergency responders or utility workers, and this can prove fatal if a person is hit by a passing car.

What is the penalty for not moving over for emergency vehicles?

The “Move Over” law is often ignored by drivers and is putting law enforcement and other lives at risk.  Troopers have been struck from behind and killed because of careless drivers that fail to obey this law.  A violation of the move over law will result in a mandatory fine of $250.00 plus court costs over $200.  Violating the “Move Over” law, damaging property or causing injury doubles the fine to $500.00 and is a class one misdemeanor.  Moreover, a conviction is considered a moving violation and counts as 3 points on your license and will cause at least a 25% insurance surcharge for three years.

UPDATE: As of December 1, 2019, penalties for violating the North Carolina Move Over law have been tightened, and those who injure or kill a law enforcement officer, first responder or utility worker stopped on the side of the road face serious felony charges. Even those with an otherwise clean record may face time in prison under the new guidelines.