car lights streaked on a highway

Move Over Ohio

Everyone’s first reaction when they see a vehicle with flashing lights parked at the side of the road is to slow down and take a good look. Everyone does it, and it even has a name: Looky-loos. Seeing flashing lights by the roadside makes us curious. Is it the police? An accident? Construction that will make us late to work? No matter what, we all want to see what it is—and in Ohio, that can cost you.

Drivers have a duty to one another on Ohio’s roads to drive safely and obey all the rules of the road. That includes Ohio’s “Move Over” law. When you see a vehicle with flashing lights at the side of the road, whether there are any traffic cones, barricades, or workers there or not, the law requires you to slow down and move over.

Move Over: It’s a Problem

Between 2015 and 2020, there were 5226 roadside crashes resulting in injury or death. Of these, more than 80% were law enforcement and construction or utility workers. The rest were ambulance and fire personnel, tow truck operators, or simply people standing or walking in the roadway.

Because of these types of accidents, the Ohio legislature passed Section 4511.213 of the Ohio code. The Move Over law was first enacted in 1999 and expanded in 2013, and requires all drivers approaching any stationary vehicle with flashing lights to:

·         Slow down

·         Move into an adjacent lane

·         Maintain reduced speed until they have passed the stopped vehicle

·         If there is no adjacent lane or conditions prevent moving over, drivers must reduce speed and pass cautiously, being prepared to stop

This differs from the requirement to yield to an emergency vehicle approaching from the front or rear. In that case, drivers are required to slow down and pull over to the shoulder, or in multi-lane roads, to stop and wait until the emergency vehicle has passed before continuing.

The Move Over law applies on any Ohio road, highway, and interstate. It can be enforced by any law-enforcement officer, highway patrol officer, local police officer, and deputy sheriff within the state. Since most of the victims of roadside accidents are law enforcement, you can imagine police take this law very seriously.

Penalties for Violation

Citations for failing to slow down and move over are severe. Although a first-time offense is a simple misdemeanor, the fines for even a first offense will be doubled. A simple traffic ticket would normally cost you $150, but if you failed to slow down for a stopped emergency vehicle, it would be $300.

If you’ve had a speeding ticket or other traffic violation in the past year, the Move-Over offense is bumped up to a fourth-degree misdemeanor and up to 30 days in jail. If you’ve had two traffic violations, you’re looking at a third-degree misdemeanor and 60 days in jail.

Too many third-degree misdemeanors on your record make it difficult for your attorney to negotiate for you if you need to plead down from jail time to probation. Once you’ve shown that you tend to violate the law, the courts don’t like to give you leniency later.

When You Didn’t Do It

Sometimes you might not have broken the law. For instance, the law acknowledges that there may be times when, due to weather, road conditions, or traffic, you are unable to move safely into another lane. If you get a ticket for failing to move over, that seems very unfair.

If you believe the conditions were such that you couldn’t have safely moved to the side, you should contact a legal professional immediately. You may be able to show that you did everything reasonably possible to slow down and prevent a collision or that trying to avoid the stopped vehicle would have been more hazardous than simply driving past.

If you live or drive in Ohio and have questions about the Move Over rule or any other concerns about your driving rights, contact Diehl & Hubbell, LLC. We are conveniently located in Lebanon, OH, close to Cincinnati and central Ohio. When you have legal questions, we are here to help you.

Call us at (513) 970-6019 for an appointment today.