“Move Over” Law on Illinois Roads Expanded

Scott Blumenshine

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Scott was settling into his new position as a Lieutenant the week before Christmas in the year 2000. He had been called in to work in the early hours of Saturday morning December 23, 2000 to assist at a crash site on the Bishop Ford Freeway. It was around 2 a.m. when he left his home where his wife and young children were all asleep.

The accident he had been called to was minor. No one was injured and he was not there for long. Traffic had been diverted and one lane had been closed with the use of flares, two police cars and a fire truck. Gillen was standing near the fire truck and was ready to return to the station when a red Oldsmobile came barreling onto the scene. It sped over the flares, hit a truck, spun around and plowed into Lieutenant Gillen.

Gillen was pinned between the Oldsmobile and a hook-and-ladder fire truck. His legs were crushed. He was rushed to the hospital and into surgery, but he died a few hours later. The Oldsmobile driver was drunk at the time with a blood alcohol content (BAC) well over the legal limit. In 2002, the driver was convicted of the criminal offense of reckless homicide and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

As a result of this tragedy, Scott’s Law, also called the “Move Over” law, was enacted in 2001. The goal was to make the highway safer for drivers of emergency vehicles when they have to pull their vehicle to the side of the road and deal with a motorist.

Scott’s “Move Over” Law: 2001 Version

The original law required drivers, when approaching any stationary emergency vehicle that was stopped beside the roadway with either its red, blue or amber lights flashing, to:

  • Proceed with caution.
  • Reduce speed. There is no required speed, but the National Safety Council recommends drivers reduce their speed to at least 20 m.p.h. under the posted speed.
  • Change lanes if the highway has four lanes, but only if it is possible to safely do so.
  • Yield the right-of-way to the emergency vehicle that has the flashing lights.

The penalties for a violation of the old law were the same as the penalties under the new law.

Scott’s “Move Over” Law: Amended as of January 1, 2017

There were more fatalities on Illinois highways in the year 2016 than there had been in any year since 2007. For the first time since 2008, more than 1,000 people were killed in vehicle accidents. In an attempt to make the highways safer, a change to Scott’s law went into effect on January 1, 2017.

The new law requires drivers to take the same cautionary actions if they encounter ANY vehicle that has its lights flashing. This means drivers must slow down, change lanes and proceed with caution.

Penalties for "Move Over" Law Violations

The penalties under the old law and the new amended law are the same. A violation is punishable by a mandatory fine of $100 but may be up to $10,000. If the person who violates the law is also “under the influence of alcohol, drugs or intoxicating compounds,” the driver’s privileges will be:

  • Suspended for 90 days if the property of someone else was damaged.
  • Suspended for up to two years if another person was injured.
  • Suspended for two years if the violation caused the death of another person.

If you were crashed into by another vehicle while you had your emergency lights flashing, and suffered personal or property damage, contact our automobile accident lawyers at the Blumenshine Law Group. We offer a free consultation. If you are unable to come to us, we can arrange to come to you. The law requires an action for damages to be brought within a certain time after the accident, so call us as soon as possible.

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