So, let’s say you're driving down the road, and off in the distance, you see an emergency vehicle, pulled to the shoulder, with lights flashing. The usual case is that a police officer has pulled over a fellow motorist. Most of us usually want to give these officers plenty of shoulder room, as they conduct their “investigation”. 

According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, traffic-related incidents continue to be the number one cause of death among on-duty law enforcement officers. 

Is There A "Move Over" Law In Michigan? 

According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, all 50 states have “Move Over” laws. 

MDOT stresses, 

Michigan’s Move Over law requires motorists to slow down and move over for stationary authorized vehicles with flashing, rotating, or oscillating lights activated. 

They also give you the proper procedure when moving over.

When approaching a stationary authorized emergency with flashing, rotating, or oscillating lights activated, you should carefully slow down to at least 10 mph below the posted speed limit and fully move over into an open lane. 

What If It’s Not Possible, Due To Traffic and What-Not? 

If this is not possible due to traffic, weather, or road conditions, slow down to at least 10 mph below the posted speed limit, and pass with caution allowing the authorized vehicle as much space as possible. 

The Michigan State Trooper "Blue Goose"

A Michigan State Police Patrol Car
Michigan State Police

What Is Considered An Authorized Emergency Vehicle? 

You may be surprised at what is considered an “authorized emergency vehicle”. This doesn’t only apply to police, fire and ambulances. The following list is what MDOT says qualifies. 

  • Police 
  • Fire 
  • Rescue 
  • Ambulance 
  • Road service (tow trucks and MDOT courtesy vehicles) 
  • Road Maintenance 
  • Utility Service 
  • Solid Waste Hauler 

What Are The Penalties For Violating the Move Over Law? 

The fines can be stiff for violating the "Move Over" law, depending on the degree of the violation. A felony conviction can result in prison time. 

  • A motorist violating the Move Over law for authorized emergency vehicles is responsible for a civil infraction and is subject to two points on their driver’s license and a fine of $400. 
  • A motorist faces felony charges and enhanced penalties of up to 15 years in prison and/or a $7,500 fine if the violation causes death to a police officer, firefighter, or other emergency response personnel. For injury to a police officer, firefighter or other emergency response personnel the motorist is guilty of a felony and the penalty is up to 2 years in prison and/or a $1,000 fine. 
  • Violation of the Move Over law for other authorized vehicles is punishable as a 90-day misdemeanor. 

To get the real nitty-gritty on the Move Over Law, you can visit the Michigan State Police Legal Update.

You Also Need To Yield For Approaching Authorized Emergency Vehicles 

Keep in mind, you must also yield to any approaching authorized emergency vehicles, either from the front or rear.  

While watching YouTube police dash cam videos, it’s amazing how many vehicles fail to yield for a speeding police cruiser. Albeit some of these cruisers are barreling down the road at 120 MPH, but it would seem that if a motorist is checking their rearview mirror regularly, they would notice the flashing red & blue lights approaching at a rapid pace.  

During a large portion of some of these pursuits, the cruiser depends on the paved shoulders to give them access around traffic blocking their way.  

What Is The Official Procedure To Yielding? 

The Cliff Note version is as follows. 

  • The driver shall yield the right of way by immediately driving into a position parallel to and as close to the edge of the curb of the roadway, clear of an intersection, and remain stopped at that position until the emergency vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer. 

The Michigan Vehicle Code For Immediate approach of authorized emergency vehicle can be found at this link.

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