Discussion and Demonstration on How to Comply with the Alabama Move Over Act Law, Save Lives and Avoid a Ticket. Traffic Lawyer Joseph C. Kreps
The Alabama Move Over Law: What is it, Why Does it Matter, What Gets Us in Trouble and How to Avoid a Citation for Violation of this Law
Human life is precious – whether it is your life, the life of a family member, friend, a police officer, county deputy, state trooper, wrecker driver, or utility/garbage/recycling worker. The Alabama Move Over Law seeks to protect human life for those that are on the side of the road. That is the main purpose of the law. The purpose of this post is to educate the public on how best to comply with the law so that you can help protect human life and hopefully, avoid a ticket for a violation of the move over law. You should also note that this law was amended in the most recent legislative session and now includes garbage trucks and recycling trucks effective August 1, 2013.
The Alabama Move Over Law has been on the books for several years now. Unbelievably, there are still people out there that do not know that it exists or do not know how to comply with it. There are many times that we run into sticky situations in court related to the move over law for several reasons. The first reason is because officers take the violation of this law more personally than most other violations. This is true because it directly affects officer safety because when they are out on the side of the road if a vehicle does not move over and is too close to them, the officer could be hit and killed. I hope that everyone understands why this law is important for officer safety.
Many times we get in trouble with this law because the law states as indicated below that on a four-lane highway or interstate “the driver of every other vehicle, as soon as it is safe …. shall vacate the lane closest to the law enforcement vehicle, emergency vehicle, wrecker, utility service vehicle, or garbage, trash, refuse, or recycling collection vehicle, unless otherwise directed by a law enforcement officer. If not safe to move over, the driver shall slow to a speed that is at least 15 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit unless otherwise directed by a law enforcement officer.” The trouble comes because of the judgment call required on the part of the driver as to what is safe and also the judgment call by the officer as to whether the person has slowed to a speed less than 15 miles per hour below the speed limit.
You are supposed to move over if it is safe and if it’s not safe, then you’re supposed to slow down to 15 miles per hour below the posted limit. On an interstate highway sometimes this can be very difficult especially in heavy traffic. The bottom line is this – if an officer is on the side of the road with someone pulled over and you go zooming past the officer in the lane closest to the officer, the chances of the officer leaving the current arrestee and chasing you down and writing you a ticket for a move over law violation are very good. The reason is it affects officer safety and a simple search of Google or You Tube can show you plenty of videos that indicate the harm and the tragedy that can be caused.
So what is the solution? It sometimes can be a very simple one. If you are keeping your eye out on the road up ahead (as you should be) and you see an officer on the side of the road (or people/other vehicles that the statute covers) then you should immediately start your process of:
1) Slowing down,
2) Putting on your blinker and
3) Moving over.
The best strategy is to always start slowing down when you see the officer up ahead so you can move over in every single situation. This achieves the goal of officer safety and of you avoiding a ticket for a violation of this law. If necessary, you can slow down in the right lane and move over when it becomes clear. The more times you are in the right lane passing an officer who is stopped on the right side of the road then the more often you are very likely to get a citation for a violation of 32-5A-58.2 the Alabama Move Over Law.
§ 32-5A-58.2. [Effective 8/1/2013]
Moving over or reducing speed when approaching law enforcement, emergency, or trash and recycling vehicles.
(a) This section shall be known as the “Alabama Move Over Act.
(b) (1) When an authorized law enforcement vehicle or emergency vehicle making use of any visual signals is parked, when a wrecker displaying amber rotating or flashing lights is performing a recovery or loading on the roadside, or when
a utility service vehicle operated by or on behalf of an entity providing utility services displaying any rotating lights, flashing lights, or other visual signals is parked on the roadside while performing tasks associated with the provision of
utility services, or when a garbage, trash, refuse, or recycling collection vehicle is actively collecting garbage, trash, refuse, or recycling materials on the roadside, the driver of every other vehicle, as soon as it is safe, shall do the
a. When driving on an interstate highway or other highway with two or more lanes traveling in the direction of the law enforcement vehicle, emergency vehicle, wrecker, utility service vehicle, or garbage, trash, refuse, or recycling collection vehicle, the driver shall vacate the lane closest to the law enforcement vehicle, emergency vehicle, wrecker,
utility service vehicle, or garbage, trash, refuse, or recycling collection vehicle, unless otherwise directed by a law enforcement officer. If not safe to move over, the driver shall slow to a speed that is at least 15 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit unless otherwise directed by a law enforcement officer.
b. When driving on a two-lane road, the driver shall move as far away from the law enforcement vehicle, emergency vehicle, wrecker, utility service vehicle, or garbage, trash, refuse, or recycling collection vehicle as possible within his or her lane and slow to a speed that is 15 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit when the posted speed limit is 25 miles per hour or greater or travel at 10 miles per hour when the posted speed limit is 20 miles per hour or less, unless
otherwise directed by a law enforcement officer.
(2) A violation of this subsection is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of twenty-five dollars ($25). Upon a second violation of this subsection, the fine shall be fifty dollars ($50). Upon a third or subsequent violation, the fine shall be one
hundred dollars ($100).
(c) (1) The Department of Public Safety shall provide an educational awareness campaign informing the motoring public about this section. The department shall provide information about this section in all newly printed driver’s license
educational materials after January 1, 2010.
(2) This section shall not relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway.
Cite as ALA. CODE § 32-5A-58.2 (1975)
History. Amended by Act 2013-400, § 1, eff. 8/1/2013.
Amended by Act 2012-409, § 1, eff. 8/1/2012.
Act 2009-577, p. 1695, §§1-3.