South Carolina Move Over Laws

Failure to move over for stopped emergency vehicles in South Carolina carries a $300-$500 fine and a misdemeanor charge.
Written by Tiffany Leung
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
According to South Carolina state law, if you fail to move over or slow down for stopped emergency vehicles with flashing lights, it could result in a $300-$500 fine and potentially a misdemeanor charge
One of the leading causes of injury or death to an emergency responder is the passing vehicles while they’re on the scene of the accident. As a result, most states have passed laws since 1990 to ensure the safety of emergency service personnel such as paramedics, firefighters, and law enforcement officers. 
Aside from Washington, D.C., every state has enacted a move over law. Knowing the terms of the law in your state is important to avoid any violations and penalties.
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What are the move over laws in South Carolina?

South Carolina’s move over law was passed in 2002. The law states drivers approaching stationary emergency vehicles with flashing lights must change lanes if possible or slow down. Under South Carolina Code, Section 56-6-1538, drivers must either: 
  • Move to a non-adjacent lane from the emergency vehicles that are stopped with flashing lights as soon as it is safe to do so, or
  • Slow down and maintain a safe speed if you cannot change lanes and approach with caution
  • Yield right-of-way to an authorized emergency vehicle by changing lanes if possible

What is considered an emergency vehicle in South Carolina? 

The South Carolina move over law applies to the following vehicles displaying alternately flashing red, red and white, blue, or red and blue lights, or amber or yellow warning lights
  • Ambulance
  • Police vehicle
  • Fire vehicle
  • Rescue vehicle
  • Recovery vehicle
  • Towing vehicle

Penalties for violating South Carolina’s move over laws

Drivers who fail to comply with the move over law when approaching any of the vehicles listed above could be charged with a violation. The penalties include: 
  • Minimum $300 fine up to $500
  • Potential misdemeanor charge
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. 
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Can violating move over laws raise your insurance? 

Violating the move over law could put a misdemeanor on your South Carolina driving record, which would affect your insurance premiums. An increase would be unavoidable, as this raises red flags for insurance companies.
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 in hopes of preventing emergency responders from being hurt or killed by passing vehicles at an accident scene. Drivers are required to safely change lanes or slow down to create a buffer area for emergency vehicles and responders.
Move over laws came about after a South Carolina paramedic, James D. Garcia was found to be at fault after being struck on scene by a rubbernecking driver. After this incident, Garcia worked hard to have laws passed so that emergency responders are protected. This 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 that requires drivers to approach emergency scenes cautiously, aside from Washington D.C. While there have been fewer injuries, violations still occur, as some drivers ignore or aren’t even aware of the law. According to the
Emergency Responder Safety Institute
, 44 emergency responders were struck and killed by vehicles in 2019 alone. 

How to find cheap insurance after a traffic conviction

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