One of the dangers that law enforcement officers face almost every single day are motorists that fail to move over or slow down for emergency vehicles. The law, passed by the Texas Legislature in 2003, requires operators of motor vehicles to move over one lane when there is a police car, EMS unit, fire truck, tow truck or Texas Department of Transportation vehicle stopped alongside the road with their emergency lights on. The law is referred to as the “Move Over Law” and it states a driver must vacate the lane closest to the stopped emergency vehicle, or if not possible, slow down at least 20 mph below the speed limit. If the speed limit is 25 mph or lower, the driver is required to slow down to 5 mph. Remember, drivers should only change lanes when they can do so in a safe and legal manner. If that is not possible, then they must slow down.
According to officers I’ve spoken with and what I have personally observed, this law is violated hundreds of times each day. Although the law has been around 16 years, I think a lot of folks are just still not familiar with it. Enforcement of the law has recently been stepped up by the the Texas Department of Public Safety as well as other law enforcement agencies.
If cited for this violation, vehicle operators may be fined up to $200 and if property damage occurred, the fine increases to $500.
In the event that bodily injury occurs, a driver could be arrested and charged with a Class B Misdemeanor, resulting in up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Please pay attention when driving and watch out for these situations, our first responders’ lives may depend on it and It’s the Law.
Until next time, stay safe and if we can be of any assistance to you or your family, call my office at 830-769-3434 or email me at David.firstname.lastname@example.org.
DAVID SOWARD is the elected Sheriff of Atascosa County. He has been with the sheriff’s office for 42 years and he is in his 7th year as Sheriff. Sheriff Soward holds a Master Jailer’s License as well as a Master Peace Officer’s License from the State of Texas.