Getting a traffic citation may not seem like a big deal, but some can come with long-term consequences in North Carolina. One of these offenses that are taken very seriously is the failure to stop for an emergency vehicle. If you are ticketed for this, do not make the mistake of treating it lightly. Failure to stop for an emergency vehicle is usually charged as a misdemeanor offense, and a conviction will result in a permanent criminal record, points on your driving record, and increased insurance costs. In a more serious case, you could be facing a felony charge.
Failure to Yield to an Emergency Vehicle Offenses and Penalties
Under North Carolina’s “Move Over” law, motorists are required to move over and stop when an emergency vehicle is approaching. Many emergency vehicles are covered under this law including:
- Law enforcement
- Fire department
- Private or public ambulance
- Rescue squad emergency vehicle
- Public service vehicles, such as cable, electric, gas, telephone, and communication vehicles
There is more than one way that you can violate this law. You could be charged with this offense for failing to do the following:
- Approaching an emergency vehicle. You are required to move over one lane if possible or reduce your speed when approaching an emergency vehicle on the road’s shoulder with its lights on. This is probably the most common violation of the “Move Over” law. However, there is an exception if a person cannot move over safely given other nearby vehicles. Violation of this law is a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by a $250 fine and court costs. You would also have three points on your driving record and one insurance point that may increase your insurance costs by approximately 25 percent.
- Emergency vehicle approaching. If an emergency vehicle is approaching and has its flashing lights or siren on, you are required to pull over as near as possible to and parallel to the right-hand edge of the road or curb and stop. You must remain stopped until the emergency vehicle passes unless directed otherwise by a law enforcement official. However, you are not required to pull over if you are traveling in the opposite direction on a four-way highway and there is a median or other physical barrier dividing the road. This is also a Class 2 misdemeanor.
- Parking near an emergency vehicle. It is illegal to park your vehicle within 100 feet of a police vehicle, fire truck, rescue squad emergency, or public or private emergency ambulance that is engaged in the investigation of an accident or is rendering aid to injured individuals. This is an infraction, and the penalty is a $250 fine.
- Following a fire truck. When a fire truck is traveling to the scene of a fire, it is against the law to follow closer than one block. It is also a violation to park within one block of where the fire emergency vehicle has stopped in response to a fire alarm. Violation of this provision is also an infraction that will result in a $250 fine.
If you violate this law and cause property damage more than $500, the offense is a Class 2 misdemeanor.
When Failing to Yield to an Emergency Vehicle Can Be Charged as a Felony
You could be charged with a Class I felony if you fail to yield to an emergency vehicle and cause serious injury or death to a law enforcement, firefighter, or other emergency vehicle personnel. The penalty if convicted could be a 3- to 12-month prison sentence. In addition, your driver’s license could be suspended for up to six months, but the judge may grant you limited driving privileges.
If you have been charged with failing to yield to an emergency vehicle, our experienced Charlotte traffic ticket attorneys are here to aggressively fight the charges you face so that they are dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. To learn more about how we can help, call our office to schedule a free consultation.