Rise in Accidents Involving Stopped Emergency Vehicles

By: Kal Issa

Recently, there has been a spike in vehicle accidents involving stopped emergency vehicles, mainly Illinois State Police vehicles.[1] Unfortunately, some of these accidents have led to the death or serious injury to members of law enforcement. In Illinois, it has been nearly 20 years since lawmakers enacted a criminal statute to address this issue.

Scott’s Law, otherwise known as the “Move Over” law, requires motorists to change lanes away from the shoulder when there is an emergency vehicle parked on the shoulder with its emergency red, white, blue or yellow lights flashing.[2] If it not safe for the motorist to make this lane change, the motorist must proceed with due caution and reduce its speed. Scott’s Law was named after Scott Gillen, a Chicago firefighter who was struck and killed by a motorist while on the scene of a crash rendering emergency services.

With this recent rise in fatal accidents, it is fair to presume that prosecutors are ensuring that a motorist ticketed for violation of this law face tougher penalties. A violation of Scott’s Law is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000.00. Even if a violation of this law leads only to property damage to another, the motorist’s license will be suspended for a minimum of three months, up to one year.

That minimum and maximum suspension doubles if the violation results in the injury of another person, whether the injured person is a member of law enforcement or any other citizen in the area. A violation of the law leading to the death of another, in addition to any and all applicable charges and sentences, will also lead to the suspension of the motorist’s license for a period of two years.

 

[1] https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-illinois-state-police-squad-crashes-move-over-law-20190307-story.html

[2] 625 ILCS 5/11-907

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