New Colorado Law in Effect August 7 Impacts How You Change Lanes
Every state in the US has some version of the "move over law" on the books, but ours here in Colorado is set to expand on August 7th, making it amongst the toughest versions of the law anywhere in the country.
Currently - as you know - if you're traveling on a roadway and approach an emergency vehicle of some sort stopped on the right side of the road with its lights flashing, you're supposed to move as far left as you can and exercise caution as you pass. But the full text of the law is set to change on August 7th.
Colorado Revised Statutes Title 42. Vehicles and Traffic § 42-4-705, currently states:
A driver in a vehicle shall exhibit due care and caution and proceed as described in subsections (2)(b) and (2)(c) of this section when approaching or passing:
(I) A stationary authorized emergency vehicle that is giving a visual signal by means of flashing, rotating, or oscillating red, blue, or white lights as permitted by section 42-4-213 or 42-4-222;
(II) A stationary towing carrier vehicle that is giving a visual signal by means of flashing, rotating, or oscillating yellow lights; or
(III) A stationary public utility service vehicle that is giving a visual signal by means of flashing, rotating, or oscillating amber lights.
The law is obviously designed to protect the safety of law enforcement and other responders as they conduct business on the side of the road. You might have seen that just last week a drunk driver in Adams County slammed into the back of a Colorado State Patrol car, pushing it towards a Trooper who literally jumped off a bridge to avoid being crushed by his cruiser.
New changes to Colorado's "Move Over Law" coming August 7th
Effective August 7th, the Colorado State Patrol, CDOT, and Governor Jared Polis announced yesterday, the law will expand to include ANY vehicle on the side of the road with emergency lights or even just their hazards flashing. This covers everything from a police car or ambulance to a tow truck or anyone conducting official business, but also will now protect a broken down 80's Toyota Corolla driven by a pizza delivery guy or any normal citizen - long as their lights are flashing.
Colorado House Bill 23-1123 adds to the law above a 4th qualifier: " A stationary motor vehicle giving a hazard signal by displaying alternately flashing lights or displaying warning lights." It also eliminates text limiting the statute to only emergency vehicles, making it all-encompassing for any vehicle on the side of the road.
Motorists will be required to move as far to the left as possible, at least a lane over, and if you're unable to move over, you must slow your vehicle to at least 20 MPH below the speed limit, exercising maximum caution as you pass.
Most of us already do this - if only as a courtesy toward the safety of our fellow drivers on the road. But if you don't, you now will have to face consequences.
The law comes with a stiff penalty for violations. Failing to move over or slow down for a disabled vehicle will be a Class 2 misdemeanor, with a fine of up to $150 and a 3-point license violation. This is just for failing to move over, when able while passing the scene.
You can read more about the revisions to the law for when it goes into effect on the Colorado Department of Transportation's website.