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What You Need to Know About Maryland’s Expanded Move Over Law


As of October 1, 2022, Maryland drivers have been navigating under the expanded Move Over Law, a crucial piece of legislation designed to enhance road safety. Initially targeting emergency and law enforcement vehicles, the law now includes provisions for all stopped, standing, or parked vehicles displaying hazard signals, road flares, or other caution signs. This amendment protects all road users, including service and delivery vehicles.

The Critical Impact of the Move Over Law

Before the most recent amendment took effect, Maryland’s Move Over Law focused on providing a safety buffer for emergency responders, law enforcement personnel, and CHART (Coordinated Highways Action Response Team) trucks.

Enacted in 2010, the law was designed as a crucial measure to protect those involved in roadside emergencies. This was a response to the hazardous conditions faced by first responders and maintenance crews who deal with incidents on the sides of busy roads.

Dealing with emergencies on the roadside is inherently dangerous, particularly when other vehicles pass by at high speeds. The passing car’s velocity and proximity to those working or stranded by the roadside create an unsafe environment. Such conditions have historically led to serious injuries and fatalities, not only in Maryland but nationwide.

Broadening Safety Measures

With the most recent amendment, the law now extends its safety measures to include any vehicle that is stopped, standing, or parked on the side of the road and displaying visual or audible signals such as hazard lights, road flares, or sirens. This expansion is a critical step in acknowledging the dangers faced by all motorists who may find themselves in emergencies.

The expansion of this regulation now means a certain level of cautious behavior is required when approaching any vehicle showing signs of distress. Whether it's a delivery truck, a family car, or a utility vehicle, if it's parked with hazard signals on, drivers are legally required to move over a lane or, if that's not possible, to significantly reduce their speed as they pass.

What’s Required of Passing Motorists?

Maryland’s Move Over Law dictates clear and specific actions that drivers must take when they encounter any vehicle that is stopped, standing, or parked on the side of a roadway.

According to the law, as a driver approaches a stopped vehicle from the rear, the first and most crucial action is to attempt a lane change. Specifically, drivers must move over to a lane not directly adjacent to the stopped vehicle if such a lane is available and the lane change can be executed safely. This maneuver significantly decreases the risk of collisions and provides a safer environment for those outside their vehicles.

However, situations exist where changing lanes might not be possible due to traffic conditions, road design, or other safety concerns. In such cases, Maryland law mandates drivers to slow down to a safe, reasonable, prudent speed, given the current roadway conditions. This could mean reducing speed to below the posted limit to ensure the safety of all parties involved.

An important aspect of the law is the exception clause: if a driver is instructed by a police officer or directed by any official traffic control device to continue without changing lanes or slowing down, they must follow these directions. This provision ensures that traffic flow and road safety are managed dynamically based on the specific circumstances of the roadside situation.

Penalties for Failing to Move Over

Since the introduction of Maryland's Move Over Law, law enforcement agencies have been vigilant in ensuring compliance to enhance road safety. In 2022, Maryland State Troopers issued 622 citations and 3,215 warnings to drivers who failed to adhere to the law. Although these numbers show a steady decrease in violations since the law's enactment, indicating a positive trend in driver awareness and behavior, a portion of the driving population may not fully understand the requirements when passing stopped vehicles displaying warning signals.

The penalties for failing to comply with the Move Over Law are substantial and escalate with the severity of the outcome. The base penalty for a move over citation is considered a misdemeanor. It includes a fine of $110, along with one point assessed to the driver's license.

If a driver's failure to move over leads to an accident, the penalties increase. The fine rises to $150, and the driver incurs three points on their license. More severe consequences are imposed when non-compliance results in death or serious injury, with the fine escalating to $750 and an additional three points on the driver’s license.

Challenging a Citation with Legal Help

At Shapiro Zwanetz & Lake, we provide robust traffic ticket defense. Our team is well-versed in Maryland’s traffic laws, including the Move Over Law, and is adept at navigating the complexities of traffic citations and their consequences.

If you’ve received a citation in Howard County, contact us at (410) 927-5137 to discuss your legal options.