Rhode Island Move Over Laws

Failure to move over for stopped emergency vehicles in Rhode Island carries a $500 fine.
Written by Tiffany Leung
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Updated on Jan 11, 2023
Under Rhode Island state law, you must move over or slow down for stopped emergency vehicles with flashing lights. Failure to do this could result in a $500 fine
First responders put their lives at risk every day, especially on the roadside. In fact, many emergency responders have died as a result of being struck by passing vehicles while they’re on the scene of the accident. In response, many states have passed laws since 1990 to protect emergency responders including paramedics, firefighters, and law enforcement officers. 
Every state besides Washington, D.C. now has a move over law. Being familiar with the terms of the law in your state is important so you don’t get penalized.
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What are the move over laws in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island’s move over law was passed in 2009. Under this law, if you are approaching a stationary emergency vehicle with flashing lights, you must change lanes (if possible) or slow down. Under Rhode Island Code, Section 31-14-3, drivers must either: 
  • Change lanes away from the designated vehicles (see below) as soon as it is safe to do so—leaving one lane between you, or
  • Slow down and leave as much distance as possible between you and the designated vehicles

What is considered an emergency vehicle in Rhode Island? 

The Rhode Island move over law applies to the following vehicles displaying/flashing red, blue, or amber lights, or has other traffic warning signals displayed
  • Police
  • Fire
  • Ambulance
  • Tow truck/roadside assistance
  • Public utility vehicles and/or service vehicles
  • Highway maintenance vehicles and/or equipment
  • Transporter trucks

Penalties for violating Rhode Island’s move over laws

Drivers who do not comply with the move over law when approaching any of the vehicles in the list above could be charged with a violation. The penalties include and $85 fine for the first offense.
If your failure to slow down leads to an injury or death, you could be subject to additional fines. To keep everyone safe, always change lanes or slow down if you see a stopped vehicle with flashing lights. 

Can violating move over laws raise your insurance? 

Violating the move over law will put a violation on your Rhode Island driving record, which will lead to an increase in your insurance premiums. The amount increased will usually depend on the circumstances and how severe the charges are. 
It is best to drive with caution at all times and follow the traffic laws in your state to avoid being flagged for higher insurance rates.
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Why are there move over laws? 

Move over laws were passed to protect emergency responders from getting injured or killed by passing vehicles while being at the accident scene. These laws require drivers to change lanes or slow down to create a safety zone for emergency vehicles and responders.
Before there were move over laws, a South Carolina paramedic, James D. Garcia was found at fault after being struck by a passing vehicle while he was at the scene. To curb this injustice, Garcia worked tirelessly to have laws passed for protecting emergency responders. Garcia’s efforts led to the first move over laws in the United States being passed in the early 2000s. 
As of 2021, every state has a move over law aside from Washington D.C that requires drivers to drive by emergency scenes cautiously. Unfortunately, while there are fewer injuries, violations still occur. According to the
Emergency Responder Safety Institute
, 44 emergency responders were struck and killed by vehicles in 2019 alone. 

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