Local law enforcement agencies are setting up sting operations to target and ticket drivers for violating a little known law.
Since 2002, Florida's "Move Over" law has required drivers to approach patrol cars, emergency vehicles or tow trucks stopped on the side of the road with caution by requiring motorists to either immediately change lanes or slow their vehicles by at least 20 m.p.h. below the posted speed limit.
However, the Florida Highway Patrol contends that motorists are just not getting the message. A recent national survey by Move Over America, founded by the National Safety Commission, showed seven in 10 drivers did not know about Move Over laws despite their existence in 46 states. That's why Pinellas authorities have been setting up traps designed to step up compliance.
Here's How the Police Pull Off the Deception
Despite the lack of a legitimate emergency, law enforcement agencies will often plant a patrol vehicle with its overhead lights activated in the emergency lane during morning rush hour traffic. Unmarked patrol cars are conveniently waiting nearby to "chase" down unknowing motorists who then fail to comply with the "Move-Over" law.
Click here to watch a video of a typical sting operation.
Don't Wait To Get a Ticket Before Changing Your Driving Habits
National "Move Over" advocacy groups correctly point out that Florida's Move Over law 316.126(1)(b) is primarily motivated by the growing need to protect the safety of police and emergency personnel on our roads and highways. Since 1999, more than 150 police officers were stuck and killed by passing vehicles while performing routine duties.
However the law is also translating into much needed revenue for local municipalities. This "moving violation" traffic citation will not only add points to your driving record and impact your insurance premium, but it will also set you back at least $136.00. In 2008, over 6,713 citations for the offense were issued. That compares with just 1,958 in 2006 and only 660 the year before. Setting up sting operations might be viewed as the goose that laid the golden egg.
Always approach stopped emergency vehicles with caution:
1.) Change lanes away from the emergency vehicle if you are able to do so safely, or if such a lane change can't be accomplished safely;
2.) Slow down to at least 20 m.p.h. below the posted speed limit being careful NOT to impede or block the flow of traffic unless otherwise directed by a law enforcement officer;
3.) If the speed limit is 20 m.p.h. or less, and you can't change lanes or are on a single lane road, drop your speed to 5 m.ph.
These required procedures apply to any motorist who is approaching a stopped "emergency vehicle" (police car, ambulance, fire truck, etc.) that has any visual signal displayed. They also apply to any tow truck that is stopped on the roadside and has its amber flashers activated.
Drive smart & don't fall prey to a "Move Over" sting operation.
Have you received a ticket, been arrested for a criminal offense or charged with a DUI in the St. Petersburg / Clearwater area? If so, call us for a free consultation at: (727) 578-0303.