Ever heard of Maryland’s “Move Over” Law? Probably not. And you aren’t the only one. Most states have laws that few people know about, but which could land you in Court with a big fat ticket. The “move over” law is just such a law in Maryland.
The law is designed to protect police and other emergency responders on our roadways. There have been a couple of tragic incidents recently caused by people not following the law, which points out the need to raise awareness. You should be aware, and forward this to other friends who may not. It could save a life, and save you or a friend from needing to hire a criminal defense attorney.
The Move Over Law applies to drivers approaching an emergency vehicle that is pulled over and has it’s lights on. The law requires you to “make a lane change into an available lane not immediately adjacent to the emergency vehicle.” In other words, move over one lane when you approach any emergency vehicle pulled over on the side of the road. This gives them an extra measure of safety while working on our very fast and dangerous highways.
The law only applies if there is another lane available in the same direction you are driving, so don’t get in the oncoming lane just because of this law. And it only applies if you can safely make the move without impeding traffic. If you cannot make the move, the law requires you to “slow to a reasonable and prudent speed that is safe for existing road, weather, and vehicular or pedestrian traffic conditions.”
I know most of us do this simply as a courtesy. But not everyone does it, and maybe raising awareness of this law will cause more drivers to move over when police have pulled over on the side of the road. Nationally, 150 law enforcement officers have been killed since 1999 after being struck by vehicles. Last year in Maryland, two police officers went to shock trauma after accidents that occurred while they had pulled over a motorist, and another driver hit them because they didn’t move over a lane. Imagine that nightmare for a moment.
Violation of the law may result in a fine of $110 and one point on your license. But if you cause an accident by failing to move over, fines will be the least of your concerns. However, you should know that if your violation does contribute to an accident, you could get a $150 fine and 3 points. And if that accident results in death or serious injury, then you get $750 plus the 3 points. I can assure you if that last possibility occurs, you will pay a heck of a lot more than that in raised insurance rates, fees for your criminal defense lawyer, future psychiatric care, and more.
So, moving over, as long as it is safe to do, is a no brainer. And if you cannot move over, you need to remember to slow down while passing an emergency vehicle. It’s not just a courtesy anymore. It is the law in Maryland.