The Shocking Truth About the Colorado 'Move Over' Law - Are You Breaking It Without Even Knowing?

Rodemer Kane Attorneys at Law
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Colorado has a variety of traffic laws, covering everything from parking issues to more serious offenses like reckless driving and DUI. One significant traffic rule in Colorado is the “Move Over” law, which is considered one of the most important driving safety regulations.

Knowing about the move-over law will help you not only steer clear of tickets and potential penalties if you've already been cited for a violation, but more so to increase public safety.

The main goal of this law is to ensure the safety of drivers on the side of the road. Violating this law can result in fines, fees, and in some cases, even imprisonment.

What Is Colorado’s “Move Over” Law?

In 2020, Colorado made changes to its laws about slowing down when emergency vehicles are on the road. The goal was to make things clearer about when and how drivers should slow down to keep everyone safe.

This change came about because of the "Move Over for Cody Act," which honors Colorado State Trooper Cody Donahue. Trooper Donahue tragically lost his life in 2016 when he was hit by a car during a routine traffic stop.

Now, the law in Colorado says that when you hear or see an emergency vehicle approaching with its lights or sirens on, you need to slow down and make room. If it's safe and possible, you should move over to make way for the emergency vehicle. But if you can't move over because of traffic or other reasons, you must still reduce your speed.

  • If the speed limit is 45 miles per hour or more, slow down by 20 miles per hour
  • If the speed limit is 40 miles per hour or less, slow down to a speed below 25 miles per hour

If you’re still asking yourself, “what’s the move over law,” here's a simplified breakdown, and the three main things drivers are required to do in these situations:

Purpose of the Law: The “Move Over” law requires drivers to make extra space for vehicles that are stopped on the road. This includes not only emergency vehicles but any car with its hazard lights on.

Speed Reduction: When approaching a stopped vehicle with hazards on, all drivers must slow down to 20 miles per hour below the speed limit. This helps create a safer environment for everyone on the road.

Lane Change: If possible, drivers should move over to an adjacent lane when they see a stopped vehicle. This maneuver increases the distance between vehicles, reducing the risk of accidents.

Another important traffic rule is about yielding to passing emergency vehicles, failing to do so is considered a traffic infraction. In this situation, rather than moving over for a stationary emergency vehicle on the side of the road with its lights flashing, you are required to yield to the passing emergency vehicles

What Is An Emergency Response Vehicle?

Contrary to popular belief, drivers are not solely obligated to yield to police cars and ambulances. The law mandates that drivers give way to various types of vehicles, which include:

  • Police vehicles
  • Ambulances
  • Fire trucks
  • Tow trucks
  • Utility trucks
  • Highway maintenance vehicles
  • Waste removal trucks
  • Construction vehicles

These vehicles typically need to activate their emergency lights to enhance visibility for approaching traffic.

How the "Move Over" Law Improves Road Safety?

The "Move Over" Law plays a crucial role in keeping drivers safe on the road by providing clearer guidelines for expected behavior during accidents or emergencies. This law aims to enhance safety for everyone involved by not only promoting safety on the road, but also providing clearer guidelines to protect victims and minimize liability for onlookers.

Understanding and following this law is essential for creating a secure and responsible driving environment.

The expanded law introduces more precise language to guide drivers in emergency situations.

It aims to create a safer environment by adding space between vehicles involved in an accident. The law helps minimize the chances of further harm to someone already incapacitated or injured.

Creating a buffer zone around a victim's car reduces the risk of additional damages during an emergency.

In many cases, the law can also absolve onlookers from holding liability. Fewer points of contact during an emergency mean less chance of onlookers being implicated when evidence is examined.

What Are the Penalties for Failing to Move Over?

Failing to move over in Colorado is a serious offense that falls under a Class 2 misdemeanor traffic infraction.

This violation occurs when a driver neglects to shift lanes or reduce speed for a roadside emergency vehicle. The consequences can range from fines to imprisonment, depending on the severity of the situation.

Careless Driving (Class 2 Misdemeanor)

  • Penalties: Up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $300.
  • Additional Consequences: Possible surcharge and points added to the driver's license.

Bodily Injury Resulting from Failure to Move Over (Class 1 Misdemeanor)

  • Penalties: Minimum six months to a maximum of 18 months in jail, accompanied by a $500 to $5,000 fine.

Fatal Accidents Caused by Failure to Move Over (Class 6 Felony)

  • Penalties: Imprisonment for one to two years, a fine ranging from $100 to $100,000, or a combination of both.

It is crucial for all motorists to be aware of and adhere to Colorado’s move-over laws to ensure the safety of emergency personnel and fellow drivers on the road. Violating these laws not only results in legal consequences but also poses a significant risk to public safety.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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