Ohio’s Move Over Law: What Does It Mean For Drivers?

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The side of the road is a dangerous place. Pulling over is bad enough, but getting out of the car is even worse. Cops, tow-truck drivers, and construction workers are particularly at risk since they’re frequently walking up to vehicles on the shoulder or working by the side of the road. On average, 1 cop, 23 highway workers, and 5 tow-truck operators are struck and killed by the side of the road every month. That’s why Ohio has a Move Over law.

What Is The Move Over Law?

Ohio’s Move Over law is intended to keep police officers, highway and maintenance workers, and tow-truck operators safe from passing traffic. It requires motorists to slow down and, if possible, change lanes to avoid getting too close to vehicles pulled over on the side of the road. It applies to all stationary vehicles with flashing or rotating lights. It originally applied only to emergency vehicles and tow trucks, but was expanded to all vehicles with flashing lights in December 2013 in order to protect highway and maintenance workers.

In some cases, you won’t be able to move over because there is no second lane or because traffic conditions won’t permit it. If you can’t move over, you’re required to slow down and drive cautiously past the stopped vehicle. Ohio Rev. Code § 4511.213.

The Move Over law covers all interstates and state highways. It doesn’t apply to surfaces streets, but it’s safer for you and for whoever is pulled over if you move over anyway.

Move Over Law Violations

The penalties for breaking the move over law depend on your driving record and may include fines or even jail time. Ohio Rev. Code § 2929.24(A). The fines for Move Over violations are double the fines usually levied for that kind of offense. Ohio Rev. Code § 4511.213(D)(2).

If you fail to comply with the Move Over law and your driving record is clean, it’s a minor misdemeanor. You’ll have to pay $300 in fines (double the $150 usually associated with minor misdemeanors).

If you have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a traffic or motor vehicle offense within the past year, it’s a 4th degree misdemeanor – that can mean up to 30 days of jail time. You’ll have to pay a fine of $500.

If you have 2 or more offenses within the past year, it’s a 3rd degree misdemeanor, which carries up to 60 days of jail time. You’ll have to pay a $1000 fine.

Roadside Safety

Unless you’re an official vehicle with your lights flashing, the Move Over law doesn’t apply to you. We hope that drivers always slow down and move around to keep people stopped on the side of the road safe, but it doesn’t always happen. If you do have to pull over, there are a few things you can do to make yourself safer.

  • Aim for wide, straight shoulders. You don’t always have control over where you can pull over. If you do have some options, however, you should aim to pull over in a place where the road is wide and straight and where you’re as far as possible from intersections and on- or off-ramps. Curves make it harder to see you, narrow roads make it harder to avoid you, and intersections and ramps pull other drivers’ attention toward where they’re going rather than toward avoiding people and vehicles they’re not expecting on the side of the road.
  • Be visible. The better people can see you, the less likely they are to hit you. Turn on your hazard lights. If you have reflective triangles or other beacons, put those out to warn other drivers of your presence. If you have reflective clothing, put it on.
  • Get your passengers clear. You may need to change a tire or make another roadside repair, but you should get your passengers away from the road if at all possible. Have them wait behind a guard rail or wall – anything that can act as a barrier between them and passing traffic.
  • Call for help. While the Move Over law doesn’t apply to you, it does apply to the tow trucks, police cars, firetrucks, or ambulances that would respond to your call for help. Even if you just need to change out a tire, it’s safer to call a professional who can stop traffic than it is to try to make the necessary repairs on the side of the road without that protection. Again, this isn’t always an option – help may be far away in rural areas. In high-traffic areas, however, it’s well worth the wait.

Drive Safely, Ohio!

If you see someone pulled over on the side of the road, it’s safest to Move Over. That’s true even where the pulled-over vehicle isn’t one of the ones expressly covered by the law. You won’t get a ticket for not pulling over, but you might be putting someone in serious danger. Taking a few moments to slow down and change lanes could save a life, and that’s always worth the effort.

If you’ve been injured in an automobile accident, we may be able to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free case evaluation and consultation to learn about your options.

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