Rising temperatures mean more cars on Ohio highways as people hit the road for summer vacations and other warm weather activities. Over the last few years, the Ohio State Highway Patrol has been ramping up the enforcement of a law not always observed by motorists. “Move Over” laws exist in all fifty states. In Ohio, the law is codified at ORC 4511.213. The law requires motorists to cautiously shift over one lane – or slow down if it is not possible to change lanes – when driving by any vehicle with flashing lights on the side of the road. The original law took effect in 1999 to reduce the risk to law enforcement officers, emergency responders and tow operators. In was expanded in 2013 to apply to every stationary vehicle with flashing lights, including road construction, maintenance and utility crews.
Between 2017 and 2021, the Ohio State Highway Patrol issued more than 26,000 citations for violating the Move Over law. The increased enforcement is in direct response to the harm caused by those who fail to abide by this statute. Nationwide, the statistics related to those killed on the roadside are eye-opening: One tow-truck driver every six days; Twenty-three highway workers and one law enforcement officer every month; and Five firefighters every year. Locally, the Ohio State Highway Patrol reports that more than 56 Troopers have been struck and injured or killed since 2016.
Violation of Ohio’s version of the law is a minor misdemeanor for a first offense. However, if you have a prior speeding ticket or other traffic violation within the prior year, the offense is considered a fourth degree misdemeanor, which carries up to 30 days in jail. Furthermore, if you have two prior speeding tickets or other traffic violations within the prior year, the offense moves up to a third degree misdemeanor, carrying up to 60 days in jail. Fines can range from $300 to $1000 depending on the violator’s prior driving record.
Be cautious as you head out to enjoy the improving weather. And if you come upon a vehicle on the side of the road with flashing lights – be careful, slow down and move over!