In Texas, it’s the law to switch lanes or slow down when passing an emergency vehicle on the side of the road, and now there will be stricter penalties for drivers who chose not to.
Enacted in 2003, the “Move Over/Slow Down” law requires drivers to move over a lane or slow down to 20 miles per hour below the speed limit when approaching stationary emergency or law enforcement vehicles, tow trucks, Texas Department of Transportation vehicles, and other construction or utility worker vehicles. Governor Greg Abbott signed Texas House Bill 898 over the summer, which increases both the fines and criminal penalties for those who violate this law. It went into effect on September 1, 2023.
“First responders and the citizens they are assisting are in a vulnerable position on the side of the road,” said Coppell Fire Chief Kevin Richardson. “Ignoring the Move Over/Slow Down law puts everybody involved in danger. The new penalties for violators will hopefully remind drivers to stay alert and take care when passing.”
Before HB 898 went into effect, Move Over/Slow Down violators were given up to a $200 fine, or $2,000 if they injured somebody. Now, first offenders will be fined $500 - $1,250, and if somebody is hurt, charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which could result in up to a year in jail.
The fine for repeat offenders goes up to $1,000 - $2,000, and the penalty for causing harm increases to a felony with up to two years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
“When you see any vehicle on the side of the road up ahead, move over a lane if possible, and slow down,” Richardson said. “Using caution and allowing some space between vehicles will help prevent serious injury and save lives.”