Stricter Penalties for New Jersey’s Move Over Law

In New Jersey, the Move Over law requires drivers to move over into the left or middle lane when there is an emergency vehicle stopped on the shoulder of the road. Enacted in 2009, the intent of the law is to ensure the safety of first responders, including EMTs, police, and tow truck drivers who may be stopped on the shoulder assisting or reprimanding other drivers. This means that when an emergency vehicle is stopped on the shoulder of a roadway, drivers must move over and provide extra space between their vehicle and the first responder’s vehicle to avoid an accident.

Currently, a violation of the Move Over law comes with a fine between $100 to $500. Lawmakers want to increase the penalties associated with violations of the Move Over law to also include two motor vehicle points on the driver’s license. The purpose is to increase the penalty so that drivers become aware of the law and its consequences. Drivers will likely become more cognizant of the law if stricter penalties are enforced.

History of the Law
Many drivers may be surprised that the Move Over law has been in effect since 2009. Although the state has recently been advertising the law on electronic signs around the state, these signs do not state that moving over for emergency vehicles is the law. Drivers may even be surprised to learn that even after this law was passed, a state trooper was fatally injured on I-195 as a result of an accident with a vehicle passing by while he was out of the car during a stop. This is exactly the type of accident this law seeks to avoid.

Raising Awareness of the Law
This potential increase in penalty is getting traction in the New Jersey media and even if it is not passed by the state legislature, it may serve to raise awareness of the Move Over law among New Jersey drivers. Drivers are responsible for adhering to all motor vehicle laws. If an accident occurs as a result of unknowingly violating a motor vehicle law, this will not likely be a valid defense.

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Richard D. DiTomaso

Licensed since 1995

Member at firm DiTomaso Law

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