Move Over Law in NY

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Did you know that the Move Over Law in NY requires motorists to move over when they see an emergency or hazard vehicle on the side of the road? Many drivers are unaware of this law, and this makes them vulnerable to getting an expensive ticket.

If you have been cited for a violation of the move over law NY attorneys want you to know that it may be possible to fight the charges. Don't just plead guilty. Ask a qualified legal advocate if there is a chance that you could have these charges reduced or dropped.

What Is the Move Over Law in NY?

It is incredibly dangerous for emergency workers to assist motorists or perform other critical tasks on the sides of roads and highways across the state. In fact, this is why VTL 1144-a was enacted in 2010.

VTL 1144-a is known as the Ambrose-Searles Move Over Act. It was named in memory of Sheriff Deputy Glenn M. Searles and Trooper Robert W. Ambrose, both of whom were killed by passing vehicles while stopped on the shoulder of a road in the line of duty.

Initially, the law was only applied to ambulance, fire and police vehicles. In 2012, the law was amended to include any vehicles, such as maintenance or tow trucks, that are displaying amber lights.

The goal of the law is to prevent the injuries and deaths of emergency and hazard workers as they fulfill their duties. As long as the vehicle has its lights on while stopped at the side of a road, approaching motorists have a duty to move one lane away from the vehicle.

However, there are exceptions to this duty. If the motorist is not able to safely pull over one lane or cannot do so without violating any laws, then they are not required to move over. Nonetheless, they are required to considerably slow their speed to minimize the risk of causing a collision.

Effectively, this law is written to encourage drivers to exercise extra caution whenever they are approaching an emergency or hazard vehicle with its lights on. The law even applies to sanitation vehicles, roadway maintenance crews and roadway construction crews.

What Defense to Use Against The Move Over Law

New York's court system regards violations of the move over law with the utmost seriousness. This means that overcoming or reducing these charges is a complicated proposition.

Fortunately, a skilled traffic ticket attorney understands the intricacies of this law and is familiar with some effective defense strategies.

It is not advisable for drivers to try to make these arguments without a legal professional. Doing so may only get you into deeper trouble and ensure that you pay the maximum fines and penalties for this and any other infractions with which you are charged.

When it comes to defending against violations of the move over law, many attorneys will cite NY VTL 1128. This law essentially makes it illegal for a driver to change lanes or move over unless it is safe to do so.

The wording of this law is critical to its success as a defense against move over law tickets. This is because the law puts the burden of determining whether or not it's safe to change lanes on the driver. Instead of establishing an objective standard for safely changing lanes, the motorist is given the power of deciding what is safe and what is not. Accordingly, an officer observing the situation from a different perspective is not in a good position to determine whether or not changing lanes was prudent and reasonable.

Because only the driver can determine how safe moving over might be, it is possible for a skilled and knowledgeable attorney to prepare a credible and effective defense based on this law.

Additionally, the lawyer may cite the same law to argue that the motorist did not have sufficient time to move over. In this circumstance, it would be helpful for the attorney to be able to point out that the driver considerably slowed their speed when they realized that they did not have time to change lanes.

Attorneys also like to cite NY VTL 1110 when defending clients against violations of the move over law. This law stipulates every driver's responsibility to obey traffic control devices at all times. Accordingly, if the motorist would have been forced to cross a double yellow line to move over, then they would be guilty of violating NY VTL 1110. This could result in the driver being cited for at least two violations, one of which occurred because the motorist was trying to comply with another law.

Arguing any of these defenses before a judge and the prosecutor requires significant finesse and legal knowledge. It is not recommended that ordinary citizens try to make the sometimes minute distinctions on their own. Instead, it is wise to enlist the help of a seasoned legal professional who has defended dozens of similar cases.

Penalties for NY Move Over Law

If they are convicted of violating the move over law NY drivers are subject to a fine of up to $150. Of course, that is only for a first offense.

A second violation of this law within an 18-month period may carry a fine of up to $300. Get convicted of this offense a third time within the same 18-month period, and you could be looking at a fine of as much as $450.

It further is worth noting that a driver who is convicted of violating this law will have two points added to their driving record. Drivers who already have several points may find that this puts them in danger of having their driver's license suspended.

As with other common moving violations that happen in New York, motorists who are convicted of an infraction of VTL 1144-a are subject to a surcharge of either $88 or $93.

Moreover, some drivers will be required to pay the Driver Responsibility Assessment, otherwise known as the DRA. Any motorist who receives six points on their record within an 18-month period is required to pay this fine to the DMV. Those first six points will cost a cool $300. Any additional points in excess of six will be assessed at a rate of $75 each.

Unfortunately, the costs associated with violating NY's move over law don't end there. Insurance companies routinely run checks on their clients' driving records to see if any new tickets have cropped up since the last check. When they discover one, they penalize the client in the form of higher insurance premiums. These enhanced prices typically endure for as long as the ticket remains on the driver's record, up to four years.

The Move Over Law: Additional Details

Some drivers mistakenly believe that moving to a lane that is adjacent to an emergency or hazard vehicle that is using its flashing lights is sufficient. However, the law actually states that drivers move over one full lane. This means that traveling in an adjacent lane generally is unacceptable.

It is worth noting that many drivers who receive a citation for violating the move over law also are cited for other offenses. These sometimes include:

Speeding - which can add between three and 11 points to your record;
Failure to Yield Right of Way - which means an additional three points;

Unsafe or Improper Lane change - which also is worth three points; and
Reckless driving - which will add five points to your driving record.

If you are convicted of violating the move over law in addition to one of the above infractions, then this could be incredibly bad news. Not only will you be faced with additional fines but also you may be required to pay the Driver Responsibility Assessment and you may see your insurance rates skyrocket.

Can you afford to pay all of those penalties? If not, then it only makes sense to contact a skilled and experienced NY traffic ticket lawyer who can assess your case and tell you whether or not it may be possible to have the charges against you reduced or dropped.

Hire a Traffic Ticket Attorney

When drivers receive a ticket for violating the move over law, it's easy for them to feel like there's no way out. They figure that they didn't change lanes, and that means that a conviction is certain.

However, experienced attorneys may be able to present you with common-sense alternatives. It frequently is possible to have citations for the move over law reduced to a non-moving violation that involves smaller fines and fewer or no points. In some cases, it even may be possible to have the charges dropped if other circumstances come to light.

Meeting with an attorney is quick and easy. All you have to do is outline the situation, and the lawyer can get started working on your case. Once hired, your attorney may appear in court on your behalf and negotiate with the prosecutor for you.

Relieve your stress and learn about your options by requesting a consultation with a traffic ticket attorney. Doing so also may save you time and money.

Questions about the New York Move Over Law

No. The law initially only applied to police and fire department vehicles as well as ambulances. However, the law has been expanded to apply to New York State Department of Transportation Highway Emergency Local Patrol, or H.E.L.P., vehicles as well as tow trucks and garbage trucks. Even roadway work and construction crews are protected by the law. Basically any emergency vehicle with blue lights or any combination or blue, red, or white lights, and also maintenance vehicles with amber/yellow lights.

Even though the applicable law stipulates that a covered vehicle displays its lights, it is considered good practice to at least slow down and preferably to change lanes any time you see one of these vehicles pulled over.

In fact, drivers who encounter an ordinary passenger vehicle that's stopped on the side of the road are encouraged to move over a full lane to ensure that they don't become involved in an accident.

Slowing down or moving over for vehicles that don't have flashing lights may seem excessively cautious, but it's still the wise move to make. Experience demonstrates that plenty of police officers don't understand the finer points of the law. You may find yourself pulled over and ticketed even if you technically didn't break the law. Once again, this is one of those instances where you need legal representation.

Many motorists who are aware of the move over law in New York have discovered that this statute is zealously defended by the police. For instance, if a driver sees a police vehicle pulled over ahead with its lights flashing, they may look for an opportunity to move over.

If it is apparent that this cannot be done safely, then the driver decides to slow down instead. This generally is an acceptable alternative, but it is critical that the driver slows down enough. A reduction of ten miles an hour may not be sufficient. A significant reduction in speed to well below the posted speed limit is recommended. This is the best way to avoid a ticket if you cannot move over.

If you still get a ticket even though you slowed down significantly, then it makes sense to talk to a lawyer.

Too frequently, motorists think that the move over law applies only to the shoulder on the right. The reality is that the law is equally as applicable to the left-hand shoulder. Whenever you see flashing lights, reflective vests or road signs warning you of construction, it is wise to slow down and start looking for an opportunity to move one full lane away from the obstruction.