Do I have to change lanes if I see a police car in South Carolina?

by | Jan 20, 2017 | Firm News

Short Answer: Yes, if it is possible to do so safely.

Each of us has had to ask this question when we see blue lights ahead when we travel the interstates and state highways of South Carolina: “Do I need to change lanes?”

This rule is typically referred to as the “move over” or “get over” law.  Common sense tells drivers to be cautious, particularly at night when visibility is low, when they approach any car on the side of the road.  This only becomes a specific statutory rule when emergency lights are flashing. This is the only way to ensure that the safety of the individuals involved in the emergency stop.  (Note: The same rule applies to all types of emergency vehicles.  As long as there are lights flashing, it is the driver’s duty to respond accordingly.)

The basic law isn’t hard to follow, especially since it is easy to understand why this statute exists.  The real question comes when drivers have to determine if they can change lanes safely.  The move over law is articulated in SC Code Section 56-5-1538(G).  In short, it asks drivers to do the following things when they see flashing emergency lights:

  • Proceed with due caution.
  • Significantly reduce the speed of their vehicle; AND
  • Either-
    • Yield the right-right-of-way by changing lanes with due regard to safety and traffic conditions, OR
    • Maintain a safe speed for road conditions if changing lanes is impossible or unsafe.

Bottom line: Slow down, take precautions to ensure that those on the side of the road are safe, and change lanes to give those individuals more space if it is safe to do so.

If you receive a citation for a violating this statue, Blackwelder Law is ready to help you fight it today.  Call us for your free consultation.