Failure to Move Over for Emergency Vehicles in North Carolina

Ambulance in rear view mirror

One of the more common traffic offenses in North Carolina these days is the charge of failure to move over for emergency vehicles or illegally passing an emergency vehicle. While this is most often just an infraction or misdemeanor citation that is given to the person charged, depending on the circumstances it can be elevated to something as serious as a felony. If you have been charged with either version of failure to move over, call the experienced lawyers at Jetton and Meredith’s criminal defense team today.

When can you be charged with failure to move over?

  1. Scenario I – The most common scenario where this crime is charged is when a police officer or other law enforcement officer has someone pulled over for a traffic stop and you fail to move over when passing them. Generally, if you are on a road with multiple lanes in the same direction of travel, and you see any kind of emergency vehicle on the side of the road with their emergency lights activated, you should move at least one lane in the opposite direction.

What if this isn’t possible?

There are some situations where moving over isn’t possible, for instance where there is only one lane of travel in each direction, or when traffic conditions don’t allow for safely switching lanes. What do you do then? You must slow the vehicle down to a speed where you could safely and without creating a hazard be prepared to stop.

What is the punishment for violating this rule?

While violation of this section of the law is generally an infraction, it is a moving violation that can put points on both your license and your insurance. Furthermore, a violation of this section carries with it a mandatory $250.00 fine.

If there is property damage caused by your failure to move over, the statute enhances the punishment level to a class 1 misdemeanor and depending on your prior record, could make you eligible for an active sentence in jail.

If there is serious bodily injury or someone dies as a result of your failure to move over for an emergency vehicle. The punishment for this charge becomes a Class I felony for which you can be sentenced to an active sentence in prison of up to 24 months.

  1. Scenario II – The second scenario where you could be charged with this offense, is if you are in a lane of travel and an emergency vehicle quickly comes up behind you and you fail to pull over and come to a complete stop to allow the emergency vehicle to safely pass you.

Are there any exceptions to this rule?

The only time that you do not have to immediately pull over and come to a complete stop is if you are on a road that is at least four lanes wide, you are on the opposite side of the road, and there must be a permanent barrier between you and the direction of travel of the emergency vehicle.

What is the punishment for violating this rule?

Violation of this law is punishable by a class 2 misdemeanor and carries with it a mandatory $250.00 fine. This means that depending on your prior record level a judge may sentence you to an active term in jail.

Failing to move over can be both an expensive and serious crime in North Carolina. If you have one of these charges, contact the criminal defense team at Jetton and Meredith Today!