Move Over Law in NY | VTL 1144-a

by Adam Rosenblum

On November 1, 2016, the New York Move Over Law was expanded. It now requires drivers to slow down and move over for police and emergency vehicles (including ambulance workers and firefighters), hazard vehicles like tow trucks that display amber lights, roadway construction crews, roadway maintenance crews, and, most recently, sanitation vehicles. For the latter, the law now specifies that drivers must provide sanitation workers with a buffer of about 50 feet. 

Have a question about your Move Over Law ticket? Call 888-883-5529 to speak to an attorney now or post a comment at the bottom of this page and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Background Information

The offense is called “failing to move over for emergency vehicles and hazard vehicles” and is codified in VTL 1144-a.

What New York drivers really need to know is if you are in an adjacent lane, you too must move over. Failing to do this, even from an adjacent lane could result in a violation of VTL 1144-a. New York State Police enforce the law “vigorously” and issue hundreds of tickets each year.

The New York Move Over Law (VTL 1144-a) is considered a moving violation that is punishable by 3 points on your license and a fine of up to $275. Often (but not always), a driver who is stopped and ticketed for this will also be hit with other tickets such as:

  • Failure to Yield the Right of Way (3 Points)
  • Improper Passing (3 Points)
  • Unsafe Lane Change (3 Points)
  • Reckless Driving (5 Points)
  • Speeding (3-11 points depending on the speed)

Remember, receiving 6 points within 18 months will require you to pay an additional fine called a “Driver Responsibility Assessment” and racking up 11 points within 18 months will result in the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suspending your license.

CLICK HERE - Official Text of New York's Move-Over Law

Official Text of the Move-Over Law

New York Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) 1144-a.

The driver of every vehicle shall, consistent with the requirements of subdivision (a) of this section, drive at an appropriate reduced speed when approaching and crossing an intersection or railway grade crossing, when approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hill crest, when approaching and passing by an emergency situation involving any authorized emergency vehicle which is parked, stopped or standing on a highway and which is displaying one or more red or combination red, white, and/or blue lights pursuant to the provisions of paragraph two and subparagraph b of paragraph four of subdivision forty-one of section three hundred seventy-five of this chapter, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, and when any special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians, sanitation workers, or other traffic by reason of weather or highway conditions, including, but not limited to a highway construction or maintenance work area.

 

Common Defenses to VTL 1144-a, The Move Over Law

There are a couple solid defenses that a skilled attorney can use to help you get out of a move over law ticket.

First, NY law prohibits a driver from moving over or changing lanes unless he or she first finds it safe to do so. Consequently, your first line of defense against a move over law ticket is to cite NY VTL 1128, which expresses this idea, and to explain how and why moving over would have been unsafe for you to do.

Remember, the wording of the lane change law (NY VTL 1128) reveals that the burden is on you as the driver to determine whether it would be safe to change lanes or not. In other words, this is not an objective standard that can be evaluated by the officer looking to what an objectively reasonable and prudent person would have done. This subjectivity gives you the upper hand and makes it harder for a prosecutor to say it would have been reasonable to move over.

Additionally, if it would have been safe for you to move over, but you simply did not have enough time to do so, then you can raise that as a defense against a move over law ticket. This too requires your lawyer to cite and explain NY VTL 1128.

Second, if moving over would have forced you to cross over a double yellow line, then you cannot have been expected to do so and your ticket will not stand. After all, NY VTL 1110 requires you to obey traffic control devices. These include the laws pertaining to road markings, signs, and road lines.

Ultimately, these two statutes, NY VTL 1128 and NY VTL 1110, can be your strongest arguments to use against a NY move over law ticket.

Case Law Analysis

In the 2013 case Despian v. Garcia, the Supreme Court of New York heard a case involving a Honda minivan and two police cars that were involved in a collision. The driver of the Honda minivan struck one of the patrol cars, which caused the patrol car to spin out of control and collide with a nearby unmarked police vehicle.

Although the court was mostly dealing with a civil case of negligence, the court in dicta brought forth an interesting piece of information concerning the NY Move Over Law.

Toward the end of the opinion, and after quoting the Move Over Law in full, the court explained that the driver “has not submitted any evidence that he took any of the actions required by section 1144, when he admittedly heard the siren and saw the lights of the approaching emergency vehicle.” Despian v. Garcia, 2013 NY Slip Op 30520 – NY: Supreme Court 2013.

Afterward, the court ruled that the driver’s failure to bring forth this evidence showed that he could have been negligent in his actions.

For you as a NY driver this is important. According to this case, if you fail to obey the Move Over Law, a court can find you negligent. After all, failing to adhere to a traffic law could be grounds for the breach of a duty that you owed to other drivers. Presuming you caused damage or an injury to another person, you very well—like the driver in Despian—might be negligent.

What does this mean for you? Be careful! If you get a ticket for violating the VTL 1144, it is absolutely vital for you to: 1) provide concrete evidence of how you, in actuality, complied with the statute (i.e. you did move over at the right time) or 2) provide a good defense for why it would have been dangerous or even unlawful for you to move over.

Despian is a clarion call for all NY drivers. It not only warns us that our violation of the Move Over law can be enough to keep a negligence lawsuit against alive, but also that traffic ticket violations can be used against us in a different legal arena entirely: civil negligence cases.

Who Should You Contact?

If you recently received a New York traffic ticket, contact an attorney right away. The attorneys of the Rosenblum Law Firm have years of experience fighting traffic tickets, negotiating with prosecutors, and getting the results you are looking for. E-mail or call today at 888-883-5529 .

34 thoughts on “Move Over Law in NY | VTL 1144-a

  1. I received a ticket for violating 1144-a. The officer had lights on and no car was pulled over. There was no vehicles in other lane. The officer was inside his vehicle. I did slow down in the 65mile/hr zone to 45m/hr. It was a curved in the highway, I didn’t notice him so I only slow down. He pulled me over after that, his second question he asked ” do you have weapons or drugs in the car ? “.
    This was on 07/29/2016. I went to court date, but I was told, that I need to pay 500 and accept the points or go to trial. I am still waiting for my Trial date. This was on Sloatsburg village court.
    I have a NJ driver license.

    Nills on
  2. I got pulled over on I90 heading to Turning Stone when I passed a trooper with lights on off on the side off on the side of the road but no one else pulled over. She pulled out after I passed and had not moved over.
    She let me go in the end with a improper plate violation when I told her, and explained I was following my family for a birthday celebration. I don’t know what the fine is. She said there will not be points, etc but warned me about the move over. Do they have to have a vehicle pulled over or was I still suppose to move over? Should I plead guilty and just say thank you?

    Riley on
  3. I received a citation for “failing to move over for emergency vehicles and hazard vehicles” and is codified in VTL 1144-a.
    I am from Vermont and drive Route 7 Collar City Bridge in Troy, NY often. I am aware of the speed limits, the lanes that I need to be in for my exits and where the on coming traffic ramps are. I also am aware of what the road is like during rush hour. At 5:45 PM today, I had my twin 4 1/2 year old grandsons in the car with me and we were heading toward Latham, NY from Bennington, VT. (I had my daughter’s car, she is registered in NY state). It was still rush hour and the on-coming ramps were full and backed up and the traffic was still moving at a speed of 55-60 miles an hour and I was keeping up with other traffic. I was in the far left lane and noticed a police cruiser on the left side of the road, partially on the shoulder and partially in the road. I put on my right blinker to try to merge with traffic, but was unable to do so because of the volume of traffic and no one allowing anyone to enter. Knowing that I would not be able to move into the right lanes before I reached the officer, I slowed my speed to between 25 and 30 miles and hour and went past him. There was a HELP truck on the shoulder and 2 cars, (it did not look like there had been an accident as there was al least a car space or 2 between them). I was not more than 25 feet past the police car and he pulled out and put on his sirens and pulled me over (on the left shoulder). My speed at this time was not even up to 35 miles an hour and cars were still going by on the right much faster. There were other cars behind me that he cut off to stop and ticket me. When he got out, he was very angry and began yelling at me and said that he couldn’t believe that I would just go by him like that when he had the lane partially blocked off. I told him that I was unable to move over and that I thought the law was to move over if safe and if not then to slow down, which I told him is what I did. I apologized and told him that I understood his concern for his safety (he was sitting in his vehicle) and that I am in the medical field and my husband is with the fire department and we always worry about drivers that aren’t mindful. He was just very angry and kept yelling at me. He gave me a ticket and I do not feel that I violated the law as the approach was not safe for me to move over to the right lane, and my speed and the distance between his cruiser and mine was ample. I have looked up the move over law for NY State ‘• Drivers must use due care when approaching an emergency vehicle that displays red and/or white emergency lighting:
    o On all roads and highways, drivers must reduce speed;
    • On Parkways and other controlled access highways with multiple lanes, when approaching an emergency vehicle that displays red and/or white emergency lighting or a hazard vehicle displaying flashing amber lighting, drivers must move from the lane immediately adjacent to the emergency or hazard vehicle, unless traffic or other hazards exist to prevent doing so safely.’
    Am I in the right to want to contest this ticket? I did use caution, especially given that I had my grandsons in the vehicle with me.

    Barb Bortell on
    • Barb – This case will be decided based upon the subjective belief of the Judge. Please remember – the officer’s testimony may vary from the facts as you have described them.

      RLF Attorneys on
  4. Hello,

    I just received a ticket for violating 1144-aa. I was going west on route I-90 close to the city of Albany.
    The officer had lights on on the shoulder of the road. I was driving a U-haul truck for the first time in my life and I could have technically switched over to the left lane but I was afraid to do so due to the lack of experience of maneuvering with a truck. Instead, I was able to reduce my speed to about 55 mph (again, could not reduce it further because I was driving a truck) but still was given this ticket. Should I contest it?
    Or plead guilty and write in comments what I wrote here?
    Thanks a lot!

    Mike on
    • I suggest contesting this violation to avoid the points, penalties, and insurance implications. Writing an ‘explanation’ on the ticket itself will not assist you in avoiding these consequences.

      RLF Attorneys on
  5. I received a ticket for “failure to take due care for emergency vehicle” – a police cruiser had pulled a car over on a 2 lane stretch of Route 90. A truck blocked me from moving over to the left lane and as I approached, the cruiser turned off the flashing lights and the car that was stopped began moving out. I passed both well below the speed limit and was ticketed about 2 minutes later. I am a licensed NJ driver. What’s my best alternative? I have not had a moving violation in more than 10 years.

    Lonnie Sciambi on
    • Lonnie – what court will be handling this ticket, as the procedures to address such a violation vary. Generally speaking, 2 points would transfer to your NJ license if you are found guilty of this offense.

      RLF Attorneys on
  6. I just received a ticket for violating 1144-aa. The officer had lights on and a car pulled over. There was no vehicles in other lane. The officer had returned to his vehicle but I did slow down anyway in the 65 mile an hour hghwy to about 55. This was on 84 e bound in wallkill, ny. Should I send in by mail as guilty or not? I was on a work assignment in my personal vehicle. I am also in a temporary handicapped status due to right foot fracture. I have a temp tag…just an fyi.

    Harold Lewis on
    • Harold – I suggest you contest this ticket as it does carry points, and fines. Additionally, this ticket will likely impact your insurance rates. You may contact us for a free consultation at 888-883-5529 .

      RLF Attorneys on
  7. I got ticket 1144-AA for the move over law on 5th September 2016 . I was on my way to Niagra. I am from Connecticut and I have not seen this law being applied ever. On my way back I noticed multiple cases of police car on shoulder with another car but no car moved over . After my ticket I researched and found although this law is present for few years ,it has been implemented since march 2016 and its not that stringent either. There may be a few cases on this .
    On the day of the incident , I remember slowing down – I was on 40mph on Highway 4. This is more to take care of standing vehicles on shoulder. I have never received a ticket in my 2 years of driving in US. I am not sure what to do . I wish to plead not guilty, but I am concerned, about court representation , attorney fees, final possible penalty in $ and points… Please help

    PC on
  8. This happened in New York flushing around 7pm.

    I received a ticket of 1144a which is shown as “Fail to yield to Emergency Vehicle” along with another ticket coded 1110A for “Disobey Traffic Device Sign”

    I know that i violated 1110A because I turned right on a street which i shouldn’t do between 7am – 9pm (Cop told me). As a new driver, i might made a mistake of missing out such sign that i can’t turn within a time. So i accepted this. So after i turned right, i kept driving as usual. And suddenly saw a cop behind me, of course i pulled over my car. But the cop ended up told me that he was already behind me for two blocks. I didn’t hear the sirens and didn’t see the lighting. A possible reason is because i have a music on (not too loud) and i was really focus just looking in the front driving. It was a bright sunny day as well.

    I suddenly got two tickets just because i turned right. Is there a way that i can possibly fight for 1144a “Fail to yield to Emergency Vehicle”? Because 1144a is actually “Failure to Yield Right of Way at Intersection” but i wasn’t even going into a intersection or anything, it was just straight in a very very crowded place (many cars, people and traffic). I haven’t gotten any tickets or point records in my license. but these two tickets can add up at least 5 points. I really want to do something for this. Because i didn’t mean to ignore cop and not pulled over or move over. It just happened that way, and the cop could’ve just warned me to pay more attention next time. I really want to know a good way to fight for 1144a for my instance. The fines are also extremely high for students. Thank you.

    Alex Lin on
    • The offense is called “failing to move over for emergency vehicles and hazard vehicles” and is codified in VTL 1144-a.
      What New York drivers really need to know is if you are in an adjacent lane, you too must move over. Failing to do this, even from an adjacent lane could result in a violation of VTL 1144-a. 1144a is considered a moving violation that is punishable by 3 points on your license and a fine of up to $275. The total fine for disobeying a traffic control device violation in New York is $235.00 and 2 points on your driving record. A total of 5 points on your driving record is likely to cause a substantial increase in your car insurance premiums. We have extensive trial experience at handling matters just like yours. Please feel free to call or email so we can discuss your options in more detail.

      The Rosenblum Law Firm 888-883-5529

      Adam Rosenblum on
  9. I was in the same sort of situation. I always try to pull over in such situations but I got a ticket this May. When I saw the police lights I started looking in my left lane, but it was occupied and the driver was going the same speed as me. There were a lot of other cars in my lane and the passing lane. I was stopped and the policeman admitted that there was a car in my lane but he still gave me the ticket. I read the law and it said to change lanes if it was safe, which it was not.

    Joe Weber on
  10. I received a vtl1144-aa in Oswego county. I’m from Illinois and was up at Fort Drum on a work assignment. Was heading back to Syracuse to fly to Chicago. Do you work cases in Parish, NY.?

    Marc Miller on
    • Yes, we handle traffic matters in Parish, New York. The ticket you received is called “failing to move over for emergency vehicles and hazard vehicles.” This offense is considered a moving violation that is punishable by 3 points on your license and a fine of up to $275. Once you retain an attorney you would not have to make any court appearances. Please feel free to contact one of our attorneys at the number below to discuss your options in more detail.

      The Rosenblum Law Firm 888-883-5529

      Adam Rosenblum on
  11. Last night I was given a ticket for failing to move to the center lane. A police officer and another vehicle were moving on the shoulder of the road. The police officer stated I didn’t even slow up..possibly sped up. I did in order to let them merge after I passed. The law states I believe only if the emergency vehicles are stopped. They werent. Should I plead not guilty? I have a clean record.

    Catherine on
    • Hi Catherine, you are currently looking at a 3 point ticket with a maximum court fine of $275. Please contact us for a free consultation if you have any questions or concerns about having the ticket reduced. We could be reached at 888-883-5529 .

      Adam Rosenblum on
  12. Hey I got a ticket 1:00 am the police car was standing right side on the high way with other car police officer is giving the ticket to other driver I was driving in middle line officer flash light to stop me he came and said why your changing the line you can’t see emergency light i was not in speed and he gave me ticket section 1144 a what should I do how much fine will be and is there any points

    Liaqat afzal on
    • Hi Liaqat, you are currently looking at a 3 point ticket with a maximum fine of $275. If you would like to find out more information about having your ticket reduced to minimum penalties, please contact our office for a free consultation at 888-883-5529 .

      Adam Rosenblum on
  13. Hi
    I got ticket today for not moving over for an emergency vahicle …I got ticket in Florida, but my license from New York ….I want know how much fine & how many point I loss ?
    Thanks

    Lucky on
  14. Hello,
    I got a ticket yesterday for not moving over for an emergency vehicle (police had another car pulled over). I didn’t change lanes because someone was coming up on my left. The officer put in the report “when told the reason for stop stated – you know, I thought of that. but there was a car coming up next tome and I didn’t want to cut him off. I didn’t see you in time”. I didn’t say “I didn’t see you in time”, I said “I didn’t think it was safe”. What would it cost to fight this ticket?

    Amanda on
  15. Hi I got pulled over at 2 am with one friend in my car we were coming down a hill and it looked as if the cars were waiting like normal until we got close so I moved over and Iater got pulled over for the move over ticket…but the cop didn’t have lights on so I couldn’t see that until I got close enough and got over should I get an attorney because he didn’t have his lights on?

    Sarina on
  16. Hi Rabbi,
    I am a former President of a synagogue in Mt. Vernon, NY and an educator with the public schools for over 40 years. Yesterday I was driving to a meeting in Albany when I received a ticket for this ‘move over law.’ What happened is that the cop was on the right shoulder with another car he had pulled over.

    Jennifer Schulman, Ed.D on

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