Cop car with flashing lights

What Are the Penalties for Failing to Yield to an Emergency Vehicle in NC?

By Joel Hancock

Many people find that a traffic citation is not a big deal, but there are some traffic offenses that can lead to much more serious consequences. In North Carolina, failing to yield to an emergency vehicle is one of them. Failure to yield to an emergency vehicle is generally charged as a misdemeanor, which will result in a permanent criminal record as well as points on your license and increased premiums from your insurance provider. However, more serious cases can be charged as a felony. 

Under North Carolina’s “Move Over” law, drivers must move to the side of the road and stop when an emergency vehicle is approaching. Such emergency vehicles include:

  • Private or public ambulances
  • Fire department vehicles
  • Law enforcement vehicles
  • Public service vehicles
  • Rescue squad emergency vehicles

Ways to Violate NC’s Move Over Law

If you fail to comply and a police officer sees you, you will receive a citation. However, there are other ways that you can violate the law. 

  1. Not coming to a complete stop after moving out of the way of the emergency vehicle
  2. Moving in front of and blocking the path of an emergency vehicle
  3. Not allowing the emergency vehicle to pass safely

Approaching an Emergency Vehicle

When you are approaching an emergency vehicle, you must move over a lane (if you can do so safely) and reduce your speed. This is a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $250. You will receive three points on your license, which can significantly increase your auto insurance premiums. 

Emergency Vehicle Approaching You

If an emergency vehicle is approaching with its lights or siren on, you must pull over parallel to the right side of the road or curb and come to a complete stop. You may begin driving again once the vehicle has passed you, or if law enforcement gives you instructions to. However, if you are driving the opposite direction on a four-lane highway and there is a physical barrier or median separating the road, you need not stop. If you fail to comply, this will also result in a Class 2 misdemeanor. 

Following a Fire Truck

It is an infraction resulting in a $250 fine if you follow a fire truck that is headed to a fire within one block. Additionally, you may not park within one block of the fire truck if it has stopped due to a fire alarm. 

Parking Near an Emergency Vehicle

You may not park within 100 feet of an emergency vehicle that is either rendering aid or is engaged in the investigation of an accident. This is also an infraction that carries a $250 fine. 

A violation of any of these actions that causes more than $500 in property damage will be considered a Class 2 misdemeanor.

If you wish to fight the allegation, the officer that issued the ticket must also appear in court in order to prove his or her case. You will also be provided the opportunity to argue in your own defense. 

To prepare to argue your case, you should compile as much evidence as possible. This may include pictures from the scene in which you were cited as well as your version of events written down. You will want to do this as soon as possible, as memory fades with time. 

Hancock Law Firm Helps Those in NC Who Have Been Cited for Failing to Yield to an Emergency Vehicle

If you have been charged with the failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney

At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we will work hard to get your ticket minimized or even dismissed. To learn more about hate crimes or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

About the Author
Joel Hancock is a native of Carteret County, NC. He devotes 100% of his practice to defending those accused of traffic infractions, DWI, misdemeanors, and felonies in Carteret County, NC.