19 Dec Oklahoma “Move Over Law”- What You Need to Know
When to Move Over for Emergency Vehicles in Oklahoma
Have you ever been driving on a highway and suddenly see lights flashing on the roadside ahead of you? Your first instinct is to assess the situation and see what is happening. In these scenarios, many people move their vehicles farthest from the scene or even pull over for approaching vehicles with flashing lights, whether police or wreckers alike. However, based on the circumstances, sometimes doing so can be difficult or even not achievable. What many people do not know is moving over for emergency, stationary, maintenance and other authorized vehicles on Oklahoma highways is the Law. In this article we will talk about the reasoning behind this statute, the penalties, and your options of defense when convicted of this violation.
Bernardo’s Law, a.k.a. “The Move-Over Law”,:
In 2021 the Oklahoma “Move-Over” law was approved by the Senate to be renamed as, “Bernardo’s Law”. Bernardo Martinez was a tow truck driver on duty in Oklahoma who was struck and killed by a distracted driver on the roadside. Bernardo’s wife and family advocated for pull over and slow down policies that would increase awareness of wrecker safety on the roadways. They requested Oklahoma’s move-over law be renamed in remembrance of their lost loved one and their request was granted.
Bernardo’s law states, 47 O.S. § 11-314 (OSCN 2022):
- This section shall be known and may be cited as “Bernardo’s Law”.
- The driver of a motor vehicle, upon approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle, a Department of Transportation maintenance vehicle, a Turnpike Authority maintenance vehicle, a stationary vehicle that is displaying flashing lights or a licensed wrecker that is displaying a flashing amber light, a combination red or blue light or any combination of amber, red or blue lights, shall:
- If traveling on a highway that consists of two or more lanes that carry traffic in the same direction of travel as that of the driver, the driver shall proceed with due caution and shall, if possible and with due regard to the road, weather, and traffic conditions, change lanes into a lane that is not adjacent to the stationary authorized emergency vehicle, a Department of Transportation maintenance vehicle, a Turnpike Authority maintenance vehicle, or licensed wrecker; or if the driver is not able to change lanes or if to do so would be unsafe, the driver shall proceed with due caution and reduce the speed of the motor vehicle to a safe speed for the existing road, weather, and traffic conditions; and
- If traveling on a highway other than a highway described in paragraph 1 of this subsection, the driver shall proceed with due caution and reduce the speed of the motor vehicle to a safe speed for the existing road, weather, and traffic conditions.
This law is inclusive of different roadside vehicles displaying hazard or warning lights and signals. It is imperative to remain cautious and aware when approaching a stationary vehicle and take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of those on the roadside. However, that may not always be the case and the punishment for such violations can be crucial.
Penalties of Failing to Move Over or Yield to Emergency Vehicles
Moving over for authorized vehicles on the roadways is more than just a courtesy in Oklahoma. Highway work-zones can be present anywhere, at any time, for whatever reason necessary by authorized vehicles. This move-over law is in effect to require motorist approaching stationary vehicles to do everything in their power to move to a different lane not near the stationary vehicle. If this is not possible, the motorist is to continue with “due caution” and slow to “a safe speed for the existing, road, weather, and traffic conditions.” Failing to do so can result in a “right of way” violation in the State of Oklahoma. Examples of these violations may result in fines like inattentive or reckless driving violations and may reach up to $1,000.
However, if a worst-case scenario, such as Bernardo Martinez’s death, were to occur, the possibility of being responsible for harsher penalties is more prevalent. For such negligent instances, a charge of manslaughter or legal liability for civil damages such as, medical expenses or restitution is possible and may result in thousands of dollars in consequences.
To avoid such outcomes of failing to move-over for road-side vehicles, it may be beneficial to hire an attorney in assisting your move-over citations to reduce your fines and keep the violation off your record. OK Traffic Ticket Defense has had great success in defending clients in traffic-related offenses, achieving dismissals, fine reductions, and so forth. If you have received a failure to yield or move over for emergency vehicle citation or any other traffic violation in Oklahoma, contact OK Traffic Ticket Defense today. Upload your ticket, message us, or call us to discuss your situation at no charge.