Legal Advice

What to Know About - Slow Down, Move Over Laws in California

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Are you aware of the "slow down, move over" laws in your state?" If you don't, you're not alone. A lot of people are unsure of the law as well, and some don't even know it exists. So, what is it actually? Well, it's a law that involves you and first responders. Essentially, what it tells you is to slow down if you see an emergency happening in the front, such as a car being readied to be towed away and to move to the next lane to avoid coming into contact with the individuals. That said, let's delve deeper into the "move over, slow down" laws in California and learn what there is to know about them:

Understanding Slow Down, Move Over Laws

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Purpose of Slow Down, Move Over Laws

Slow Down, Move Over laws are designed to protect law enforcement officers, emergency medical technicians, tow truck operators, and other authorized vehicles on the side of the road. These laws require drivers to reduce their speed and, if possible, move over to an adjacent lane when approaching emergency vehicles displaying their flashing lights.

How Slow Down, Move Over Laws Work

When drivers encounter an emergency vehicle on the side of the road, they must slow down to a safe speed, considering the conditions, and proceed with caution. If it is safe to do so, drivers should also change lanes to create a buffer space between their vehicle and the emergency vehicle.

Slow Down, Move Over Laws in California

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Well, the laws in California are quite simple. They are, however, very important and something that you need to follow. The laws state that you must:

The steps to comply with the Move Over law in California are as follows:

1. Stay Alert: Always stay attentive while driving and be aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye out for any emergency vehicles, tow trucks, or Caltrans vehicles that are displaying flashing lights.

2. Recognize the Situation: When you spot an emergency vehicle, slow down and assess the situation. Determine if it is safe to change lanes to create a buffer zone between your vehicle and the emergency vehicle.

3. Reduce Speed: As you approach the emergency vehicle, reduce your speed. Take into account the road conditions, traffic flow, and any instructions provided by law enforcement officers or emergency personnel.

4. Change Lanes Safely: If it is safe to do so, change lanes to create distance between your vehicle and the emergency vehicle. Use your turn signals to indicate your intentions and ensure that other drivers are aware of your movement.

5. Maintain Caution: While passing the emergency vehicle, remain cautious and observant. Keep a safe distance and be prepared for any sudden movements or actions from the emergency personnel.

6. Adhere to Traffic Laws: It is essential to follow all traffic laws and regulations while moving over for emergency vehicles. Avoid speeding or making abrupt lane changes that could endanger yourself or others on the road.

7. Continue Safely: Once you have safely passed the emergency vehicle, you can resume your normal speed and lane position. However, it is still important to remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings.

History and Background

The Move Over law was officially implemented in California on January 1, 2007. It was enacted as part of Assembly Bill 2289, which aimed to enhance the safety of emergency personnel and authorized vehicles working on the side of the road. This legislation mandated that drivers slow down and, when it is safe to do so, move over to an adjacent lane when approaching emergency vehicles with activated flashing lights.

Since its implementation, the Move Over law in California has undergone updates and amendments to further strengthen its provisions and extend its coverage to other authorized vehicles. For example, the law was expanded to include tow trucks and Caltrans vehicles displaying flashing lights, ensuring the safety of a wider range of individuals working on the roadside.

Applicability of the Law

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The Move Over law applies to various individuals and vehicles in California. Initially, the law was primarily focused on emergency vehicles, including law enforcement vehicles, fire trucks, and ambulances, displaying flashing lights while attending to emergencies or incidents on the side of the road.

However, the scope of the Move Over law has expanded to include other authorized vehicles. In addition to emergency vehicles, the law now applies to tow trucks and Caltrans vehicles displaying flashing lights. These vehicles are also included under the protection of the Move Over law to ensure the safety of those individuals working on the roadside to provide essential services.

The law applies to all drivers on the road, regardless of the type of vehicle they are operating. It is crucial for drivers of passenger cars, motorcycles, commercial vehicles, and any other motorized vehicles to adhere to the requirements of the Move Over law.

Penalties for Violating the Law

Violating Slow Down, Move Over laws in California can result in significant penalties. The fines for a first offense can range from several hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars, depending on the circumstances. Repeat offenses may result in higher fines, increased insurance premiums, and potential license suspension.

Do I Need A Lawyer?

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In most cases, you may not require the services of a lawyer for violating the "slow down, move over" laws. These violations are typically treated as traffic infractions, similar to other moving violations. As such, individuals are usually able to handle the legal process on their own, paying the fines and resolving the matter without legal representation.

What If A Motorist Hits Me During An Emergency?

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In unfortunate situations where you are involved in an emergency and a negligent or careless motorist hits you from behind, causing injuries and other damages, it is crucial to seek the assistance of an attorney. This is particularly important if you have sustained serious injuries due to the incident.

When you find yourself in such a scenario, hiring an attorney becomes essential to navigate the legal complexities and protect your rights. An experienced attorney specializing in personal injury law can provide invaluable support in dealing with the situation and advocating for your best interests.

One of the primary roles of an attorney in this situation is to help you seek compensation for the losses you have experienced as a result of the accident. These losses can include medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, property damage, and any other damages incurred due to the collision. Your attorney will work diligently to gather evidence, assess the extent of your injuries, and calculate the appropriate amount of compensation you may be entitled to.

By hiring an attorney, you can focus on your physical and emotional recovery while leaving the legal matters in capable hands. Your attorney will handle communication with insurance companies, negotiate on your behalf, and, if necessary, pursue legal action to ensure that you receive fair and just compensation for your injuries and damages.

In addition to seeking financial compensation, an attorney can provide guidance and support throughout the entire process. They will help you understand your rights, explain the legal options available to you, and ensure that your case is presented in the strongest possible manner. Their expertise in personal injury law will be instrumental in building a solid case and pursuing a favorable outcome.

Remember, in cases where you have been injured by a negligent or careless motorist during an emergency, hiring an attorney is crucial to protect your rights and secure the compensation you deserve. They will navigate the legal complexities on your behalf, allowing you to focus on healing and recovering from the physical and emotional impact of the incident.

How Do I Avoid Roadside Accidents?

Car driving down a long straight road at dusk.
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Understanding the traffic laws and knowing how to drive safely is paramount for highway safety, and there are many things you can do to avoid roadside accidents, especially with a first responder and the like.

First things first, never ever drive distracted. Always keep your eyes on the road and pay attention to what's happening around you. Second, try and look further ahead for any emergency vehicles, utility vehicles, and the like. If you see any of such vehicles, slow down to anywhere between 10 to 20 mph slower than the posted speed limit. Third, if you are on a multi-lane roadway, slowly make your way to the adjacent lane. If you cannot do so right away, slow down and approach with care. This is to ensure you don't accidentally ram into the responders should you not be able to make a lane change, allowing you to come to a complete stop if necessary before making the change.

What Should I Do If I Run Into An Emergency?

If you find yourself running into an emergency, such as your car breaking down on the freeway, there are a few things you can do to maximize safety.

  1. Pull over as far right as possible: If you can, safely maneuver your vehicle to the far right side of the road while ensuring it is on level ground. This helps create a safer distance between your vehicle and moving traffic.
  2. Activate hazard lights and use visual warnings: While pulling over, immediately turn on your hazard lights to alert other motorists that your car is experiencing trouble. Additionally, consider using visual warnings such as raising the hood of your vehicle or placing something bright on your car's antenna, window, or back. These signals help communicate to other drivers that caution is required.
  3. Check for traffic before exiting: Before stepping out of your vehicle, always check for any oncoming traffic approaching from behind. Be cautious and ensure it is safe to exit your vehicle without being in the path of other vehicles.
  4. Avoid standing in front or behind your vehicle: To minimize the risk of accidents, never position yourself in front or behind your car, as other motorists may have difficulty seeing you. Standing in these areas puts you at risk of serious injuries in the event of a collision.
  5. Stay inside the vehicle if possible: If it is safe to do so, remain inside your car until assistance arrives. Keep your doors locked for added security. Leaving the vehicle should only be considered in situations where it is absolutely necessary, such as if there is a fire in the engine compartment. In general, staying inside the car provides a higher level of safety.

By following these steps, you can maximize your safety and minimize the risk of accidents or injuries when faced with an emergency situation on the road. Remember to always prioritize your well-being and take necessary precautions to protect yourself and others.


All in all, here's the takeaway: if you see an emergency, slow down and move over. It's as simple as that, but of course, you should never let your guard down. You never know when you will find yourself near an emergency situation, so always keep your eyes on the road and avoid as many distractions as possible. That said, if you do get into an emergency yourself, always prioritize safety for yourself and the motorists on the road. This can include staying in the car or setting up bright fabrics on your car to warn oncoming vehicles about your situation. This way, you and everyone else on the road are as safe as possible!

Mendez & Sanchez Law offers professional attorneys and team members that can help you navigate any difficult legal landscape. If you're looking for an accident lawyer in Los Angeles, get in touch with us today!


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