North Carolina Move Over Law 2024 Explained

Every driver has a legal responsibility to operate their vehicle with reasonable care and to follow the rules of the road at all times. One of these rules is the North Carolina Move Over law, which comes into play whenever a police car or other emergency responder vehicle is stopped on the side of the road with its lights engaged. In this situation, drivers must know how to react appropriately to avoid fines and other penalties.

Understanding the Move Over Law

The Move Over law aims to ensure the safety of state troopers, police officers, and other emergency responders in various situations. Whenever any emergency vehicle engages its blue lights and/or sirens, drivers are required to yield the right-of-way and move out of the way if necessary, so the emergency vehicle can pass. The Move Over law applies specifically to any situation in which the emergency vehicle is stopped on the side of the road.

A police officer or state trooper may conduct a traffic stop, engaging its blue lights to pull over a driver for a traffic violation. Ambulances may need to pull over to provide aid to injured victims of an accident. The Move Over law requires any passing motorists to move away and/or slow down as they pass any such emergency vehicles on the side of the road. This ensures that police and other emergency personnel are safe from passing traffic.

This law also pertains to utility vehicles that may be performing critical repairs or emergency work during severe storms. These vehicles are indicated by flashing amber lights and may post other warning signs around the area where they need to work. In any applicable situation, a passing driver should shift one lane away from the emergency vehicle if they can safely do so, or they must slow down as they pass the emergency vehicle.

Fighting a Ticket for Violating the Move Over Law

The North Carolina Move Over law requires mandatory penalties for anyone who violates this law, including fines as well as potential liability for any damages caused. While it is possible for a driver to defend themselves from prosecution for violation of the Move Over law, the only way to accomplish this in most cases is by proving that it was not possible or safe for the driver to slow down and/or move over in the situation.

For example, if you were driving in congested traffic or if nearby drivers made it impossible for you to safely move to the next lane or slow down, these could all form viable defenses to your ticket. Emergency vehicle recordings, vehicle computer data, and other evidence could all come into play in your defense.

If you have been charged with violating the Move Over law, the team at Christina Rivenbark & Associates can defend you. We have years of professional experience defending clients in traffic court and criminal court, and we can assist you in formulating an effective defense against the charge or charges filed against you. Before you pay a traffic fine of any kind, contact our firm to determine if you have grounds to contest the ticket.


Q: What Is the Penalty for Violating the Move Over Law?

A: The penalty for violating the Move Over law in the state begins with a mandatory $250 fine. This fine increases to $500 if the violation results in an accident that causes injury or death. Additionally, if the driver in violation does cause such an accident, they can face civil liability for the victim’s damages along with criminal prosecution for a felony offense. Drivers must slow down or change lanes when an emergency vehicle is stopped on the road.

Q: Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for Traffic Court?

A: Hiring a lawyer for traffic court in North Carolina is a valuable investment, as your attorney may be able to help you avoid some of the penalties that could be assigned to you for the violation. You may have more options for defending yourself than you initially realize, and your defense attorney may be able to help you minimize your penalty or even avoid penalties entirely.

Q: What Is North Carolina General Statute 20-157?

A: General Statute 20-157 pertains to a driver’s obligation to clear the way for an emergency vehicle displaying lights and/or sirens on the road. Whenever a police car or ambulance displays its blue lights and/or sirens, nearby motorists must immediately pull to the side of the road to make way for the emergency responder. Violation of this statute could lead to prosecution for a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Q: How Can You Fight a Move Over Law Ticket?

A: You could fight a Move Over law ticket in several ways. The state has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the violation. However, you may be able to defeat the ticket if there is no camera footage of the violation if you can prove the emergency vehicle did not have its blue lights activated, or if you can prove that traffic conditions made it unsafe for you to slow down or move over at the time.

Q: Should I Pay a Traffic Ticket?

A: If you pay a traffic ticket in the state, you are effectively admitting guilt for the offense cited on the ticket. While many drivers believe they can just pay these fines and move on with their lives, the reality is that admitting guilt for a traffic offense could cause you problems in the future. You could face demerit points on your license, increased insurance premiums, and various other penalties that may not be immediately noticeable.

Christina Rivenbark & Associates offers comprehensive legal counsel for all types of traffic cases in the state. If you have been accused of violating North Carolina’s Move Over law or have been issued any other type of traffic ticket, you may have more room to defend yourself than you initially realize. However, you will need an attorney’s help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about the legal services we can provide in your situation.

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