Colorado’s Move Over Law

Posted On April 27 2024 | Personal Injury

All 50 states have some sort of law requiring motor vehicle operators to safely maneuver around emergency vehicles on the roadside. However, each state is responsible for setting its own parameters regarding what motorists have to do in these circumstances. Colorado’s move-over law is similar to laws in other states, but the state legislature recently made some changes to further define confusing speed limit questions.

More Over or Slow Down for Emergency Vehicles

Under Colorado Revised Statute Section 42-4-705, motorists in the state have been required to move at least one lane over when approaching or passing authorized emergency vehicles that are stopped on the roadway or near the roadway with emergency lights flashing. In situations where it is unsafe for a vehicle to move over at least one lane from the emergency vehicle or if another lane is not available, motorists must slow down to a safe speed.

The law in Colorado was amended in 2020 to remove ambiguity about what a “safe speed” means when passing emergency vehicles. Updated law as a presumption that the following speeds are safe unless conditions otherwise warrant slowing down even further:

  • 25 mph if the speed limit is less than 45 mph on the roadway
  • At least 20 mph less than the posted speed limit if the speed limit is 45 mph or higher

This law applies to a range of types of emergency vehicles, including police vehicles, fire vehicles, ambulances, and even tow trucks. This law only applies to vehicles with their emergency lights activated.

Consequences of Violating Colorado’s Move Over Law

Individuals who fail to move over when required to do so could face citations from law enforcement officials. A first offense for violating this particular statute can result in a fine of up to $300 and up to 90 days in jail. This offense may also result in points added to a driver’s license.

However, the penalty for violating this law increases to a Class 1 misdemeanor if a driver causes bodily injury to someone else because of their failure to move over or slow down in accordance with the law. This could lead to a punishment of fines ranging from $500 to $5,000 or a jail sentence of 6 to 18 months.

In the event failing to move over or slow down for an emergency vehicle results in a fatality, this increases the potential charge to a Class 6 felony in Colorado that is punishable by a range of one year to 18 months in prison and a fine of $1,000 to $100,000.

When You See an Emergency Vehicle

Seeing an emergency vehicle on the side of the road can be nerve-wracking, particularly if there is a significant amount of traffic on the roadway. Keep in mind that you should not rush to switch lanes if it is not safe to do so. The law allows you to slow down if you are unable to move to another lane. Do not panic in these situations. Remain cognizant of your surroundings if you see an emergency vehicle coming up. Lean on your defensive driving skills, move over or slow down, and continue on.