Why Did Scott’s Law Start in Illinois?
Scott’s Law, or as it is commonly known to drivers, the “Move Over” law, is not a new law (625 ILCS 5/11-907). Scott’s Law was enacted in response to the death of a Chicago Fire Department medic Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department. The driver who hit Gillen was traveling in the lane right next to where his emergency vehicle was parked while Gillen was aiding motorists involved in an accident. In 2020, the law was changed to add stiffer penalties following the death of three Illinois State Police offers in 2019.
What is the “Move Over” Law?
Although Scott’s Law has been on the books for many years in Illinois, many drivers are only recently becoming aware of the law. The “Move Over” law requires that a driver who observes a stationary emergency vehicle, (i.e. a police car) on the side of the road, to do the following:
- Make a lane change into a lane not next to that of the authorized emergency vehicle;
- Or, if it is unsafe or not possible to move into a lane not directly next to the emergency vehicle, you must slow down while still maintaining a safe speed for road conditions. You must still try to maintain a safe distance until you have passed the emergency vehicle.
You can face serious consequences for receiving a ticket for breaking the “move over” law. Penalties could include significant fines on top of high court costs, jail time, and suspension of your driver’s license. Some of the penalties you could face are detailed below.
What is the fine for a “Move Over” ticket?
If you are found guilty of violating Scott’s Law/Move Over Law you will face the following penalties:
- In Illinois, if it is your first ticket for violating the “move over” law you face a minimum fine of $250.00 or more than $10,000 dollars.
- A second ticket for violating the “move over” law in Illinois could have you facing a minimum fine of $750.00 to more than $10,000 dollars.
Criminal Penalties for Breaking the “Move Over” Law:
Sometimes, if you receive a ticket for breaking the “move over” law, you could face criminal penalties and fines. For example, if you fail to move over when required and your failure to do so results in damage to another car, you could face up to 364 days in jail. Even more seriously, if you fail to obey the move over law and the violation causes injury or death to another person, you could face 1-3 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Driver License Suspension
If you receive a ticket for violating Scott’s Law your driving privileges could be suspended for a significant amount of time. For example, if you cause damage to the property of another person, your license will be suspended for a minimum of three months to a year!
Driver’s license suspensions are even longer for those who break the “move over” law when the violation causes injury or death to another person. In the case of an injury, a driver can face a minimum suspension of driving privileges for a period of 6 months and up to two years! In the case of death of another person, a driver faces a mandatory two years of suspension.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is considered an “authorized emergency vehicle”?
Under the “move over” law, an authorized emergency vehicle authorized by law to be equipped with oscillating, rotating, or flashing lights under Section 12-215 of this Code, while the owner or operator of the vehicle is engaged in his or her official duties. Under this definition serval other types of vehicles are protected under Scott’s Law. For example, a stationary tow truck with appropriately activated lights could require you to follow the direction of Scott’s Law.
Does the “move over” law apply to regular cars that are stopped?
Yes. Under section 625 ILCS 5/11-907.5(a) a disabled stationary non-authorized emergency vehicle with its hazard lights activated requires other drivers approaching the vehicle to move over. While the penalty for failure to obey Scott’s Law with respect to disabled vehicles is not the same, the procedure to comply with the “move over” law is the same as it is for approaching authorized emergency vehicles. Upon approach, a driver must do the following:
- Make a lane change into a lane not next to that of the disabled vehicle;
- Or, if it is unsafe or not possible to move into a lane not directly next to the vehicle, you must slow down while still maintaining a safe speed for road conditions and leaving a safe distance until safely past the disabled car.
A ticket for failure to “move over” is a petty offense which in short means that you could face a minimum fine of $75.00 and a maximum fine of $1000.00.
What if I didn’t know about the “move over” law when I got the ticket?
As stated in the beginning, the “move over” law has been on the books in Illinois for a few years. It is entirely possible that a driver was unaware of the law at the time they received the ticket. Will this be a valid defense? No. However, the Illinois legislature has recognized that more education about Scott’s Law is necessary. The new amendments to the “move over” law will drive some of the funds from the higher fines toward more education to drivers. In addition, the Illinois written driver test will require at least one question on the exam about Scott’s Law.
I have a ticket for violating the “move over” law? Now what?
While this article gives you a lot of information about receiving a ticket for Scott’s Law, as with any article, it cannot substitute for an actual evaluation of the facts of your case by a qualified and experienced traffic ticket charges defense attorney like Attorney Anisa Jordan. The penalties for a “move over” ticket can have serious consequences resulting in significant fines, driver license suspension and even jail time. Contact Attorney Anisa Jordan today for your free consultation.