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Move over or pay up: Governor Ducey signs tougher right-of-way penalties into law

Updated: Apr. 29, 2021 at 11:41 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Fines just got steeper for drivers who fail to give emergency workers and stranded motorists enough space on the road. On April 28, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed a “Move Over” amendment into law.

“When you’re on a freeway, if you hit someone at that speed the consequences can be dire,” said Marc Lamber, an Arizona injury lawyer.

Through his profession, Lamber has seen it all too often.

“I have had calls on cases where you have actually had good Samaritans who have pulled over to try to help someone because they blew a tire or they had some other mechanical difficulty,” he said. “They pulled their vehicle over, their lights were flashing, they got out to help and they were hit.”

From first responders at a crash, to authorities conducting a traffic stop, to stranded motorist; being next to traffic leaves people exposed.

“Highway workers - like 23 a month - die because of this,” said Lamber. “We know that emergency responders - two die every day in the US.”

Now, Arizona drivers who do not move at least one lane over for vehicles with flashing lights, or slow down if this cannot be done safely, will face tougher penalties. House Bill 2294 raises the maximum fine of $250 to $1,000.

“By increasing the fine, it will show the public how serious [this] is,” said Marissa Cruz-Long.

Cruz-Long is a Tucson woman whose father died in the line of duty more than 20 years ago. The Arizona Department of Public Safety officer was blocking the high-speed lane of a crash investigation when a driver slammed into his patrol car.

“Had this vehicle respected the fact that the flares were out, that the police vehicles had their lights on and were blocking the lane, she never would have hit my father’s vehicle and he would still be here today,” she said.

Cruz-Long is working to get the Ruthrauff overpass named after her father.

She hopes the higher fines encourage more cautious behavior behind the wheel.

“Move over please and be aware of what’s going on around you,” said Cruz-Long, “and that includes looking for those lights.”

The Tucson Police Department also responded to the amendment. A spokesperson sent KOLD News 13 the following statement:

“We just want to remind the public to remain focused on the roadway and getting to their destination safely. We understand people want to look and know what is going on, but when that focus is on a traffic stop off to the side of the road, it takes away from where the focus should be; on the roadway.”

-Sgt. Richard Gradillas

PIO, Tucson Police Department

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