Email circulates half-truths about ‘Move Over’ law

Dear Street Smarts, Q: Could you explain the 'Move Over' law that went in to effect -- or perhaps was just modified -- in January? I've heard that the fines are large and that it could cost a violator three-points on their DMV record. Apparently, the law requires you to move into the next lane or slow down significantly when approaching an emergency vehicle parked on the side of the road. Thanks! Robin Bolster-Grant A: “I’m willing to bet the letter was the result of a viral email, which contains correct and incorrect information for California drivers,” said Armando Botello, spokesman for the Department of Motor Vehicles. Truth in the email California enacted its “Move Over” law in 2007. It was to sunset this year, but the Legislature breathed new life into it and updated it, he said. “Under that law, a freeway driver approaching an emergency vehicle, a Caltrans vehicle or a tow truck in the adjacent lane with amber lights flashing, should move over one lane,” he said. “If the lane change is unsafe or impractical, the driver should slow to a reasonable and prudent speed.” Fiction in the email “The fine and the three-point penalty are incorrect,” Botello said. In California, the base fine does not exceed $50. However, when fees and assessments are added in by each county, the total could go up to $200, he said. In Santa Cruz County, the base fine is $35 and the total is $146 after everything's said and done. Meanwhile, the violation will add one-point to the traffic offender’s driving record, not three, he added. The email One version of that viral email has made its way to the Sentinel. While well-meaning, it is misleading. It reads: “Hi! Here's a ‘heads-up’ message. So far, there are only two states which have not adopted this law: Hawaii and Maryland, plus the District of Columbia. A ticket for this could be very expensive. Please see the link at the bottom for confirmation and details. “In California, the ‘Move-Over’ law became operative on January 1, 2010. “ “From a guy named Troy: I wanted to let my Medlock Bridge neighbors know about the California ‘Move Over’ law. My son got a ticket on Pleasant Hill coming back from Wal-Mart. A Duluth police car (turned out it was two police cars) was on the side of the road giving a ticket to someone else. My son slowed down to pass but did not move into the other lane. The second police car immediately pulled him over and gave him a ticket. My son and I had never heard of the law. It is a fairly new law that states if any emergency vehicle is on the side of the road, if you are able, you are to move into the next lane or slow down to 20 miles below the posted speed limit. The cost of the ticket was $754, with three-points on your license and a mandatory court appearance. Please let everyone you know that drives about this new law. “It is true -- see details at the following web address. It states that except two states, all the other U.S. states -- even Canada -- enacted similar kind of law.” By the way, the link to Snopes also mentions the eroneous fine and penalty claims in the misleading email.
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