MOVE OVER LAW

By Mary Agramonte J.D.

Georgia’s “move over” law is designed to keep officers, emergency workers, and first responders safe when they are stopped on the side of the road with their emergency lights flashing. The law was passed in 2003 to reduce the number of police officer and HERO fatalities that were occurring due to traffic crash responses. The “move over” law saves lives and makes sense, but unfortunately, too many Georgia motorists are unaware that it exists until they are slapped with a $500 fine.

Under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-16, Georgia law requires drivers to move over to the next lane if safely possible when passing a stationary emergency vehicle, towing vehicle, or recovery vehicle when their lights are flashing. If moving over is absolutely impossible, the law requires you to slow down to below the speed limit and be prepared to stop your car if necessary. Violations can result in a fine of $500 for the first offense. Once you factor in the court costs, however, this can put you well above $500, even if this was your first offense, and even if you had never heard of the law. Paying the fine on your citation means you are admitting you are guilty to the offense which raises a number of consequences.

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Mary Agramonte has her Juris Doctorate from Georgia State University.

A violation of this statute could cost you much more than the fine itself. A conviction for this traffic offense will also add 3 points to your driving record, and it will stay on your record forever. A driver who is over the age of 21 is allotted 15 points in a 24 month period before the Department of Driver Services will suspend a driver’s license. Points on your record also subject you to higher car insurance rates because your insurer believes you are more likely to file a claim than someone with lower points on their record. Getting just one traffic ticket can boost an average person’s auto insurance premiums by as much as 22 percent.

Additionally, violating Georgia’s move over law can be a basis for an officer to stop your vehicle which can lead to even more serious charges. Under both the Georgia and the United States Constitutions, an officer needs “reasonable articuable suspicion” to justify pulling your vehicle over for an investigative stop. Violating this statute gives the officers that power to stop you and investigate you, which ultimately can lead to a DUI arrest or the investigation of other potential and more serious crimes.

To avoid these repercussions of violating Georgia’s move over law, always drive attentively and don’t risk being pulled over or injuring the emergency workers on the side of road. If you see lights ahead, do all that you can to safely move over. If moving over safely is impossible, remember to slow down below the speed limit when passing emergency lights, and be prepared to stop. It can save lives, and it can save you money and the hassle.

If you have been charged with a violation of Georgia’s move over law, call our office and we can help you navigate the system. Our office has extensive experience in traffic violations and DUI defense. Fighting traffic tickets with an attorney’s help is important because any conviction on your record will greatly reduce the possibility of having future citations lowered or dismissed. Our firm can handle your traffic ticket case with the experience you need to save your record. Give us a call for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.