Let me set the scene: You’re driving on Interstate 79 when you round a curve and see that a state trooper has someone pulled over on the side of the road. You wonder to yourself if the guy currently having his license and registration checked will soon need a Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer – was he speeding, did he cut someone off – maybe was a tail light out?
You did not, however, signal your intent to turn and then move into the passing lane.
Know what that means? You just violated Pennsylvania’s Steer Clear Law – and if you think it’s just one of those minor ones you’ll never get pulled over for, think again. This Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer has absolutely represented people who’ve been charged with this very thing.
Not familiar with the ins and outs of the Steer Clear law? Here’s what it says: As a motorist, you are required to move at least one lane away from incidents where an emergency vehicle is pulled over on the side of the road. According to PennDOT’s website, you must also move over or slow down for disabled vehicles. If it’s unsafe or illegal to move over, you must slow down to a reasonable speed that will allow you to pass the disabled vehicle, or emergency vehicles and personnel safely.
And that’s when you see any emergency responder on the side of the road, not just a police officer. ‘Tis the season for dead batteries, so please know that other emergency responders include tow-truck operators.
And as winter weather rears its head, please be aware that state Department of Transportation vehicles involved in emergency assistance are also included under the Steer Clear Law.
It’s not just the person—cop, tow truck driver, or DOT vehicle—that you need to avoid. The law states that you must also avoid the area where the incident is happening. Those areas will be marked with flares or signs, and include areas where emergency personnel are administering aid alongside the road.
I already know what your next question is: What if you CAN’T move over a lane because of heavy traffic or poor road conditions? Then at least reduce your speed.
Here’s why: Motorists who fail to change lanes or reduce their speed could be cited. Failure to move over or slow down can result in a citation that carries a fine of as much as $250.
If you’re cited for another traffic violation in this situation (say you aren’t wearing your seatbelt), you could face double fines. And if a worker is injured in a crash in this type of situation? Expect a 90-day license suspension, and the need to contact a Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer who focuses on traffic law defense.
You may wonder about the need for such legislation. The truth is, there have been hundreds of cops, firefighters, tow truck drivers, and motorists who have died because they were hit by someone traveling in the lane next to where they were. Case in point: in 2017, two men from Lancaster County were killed when they were hit by a drunk driver who didn’t move over. One of the men who died was a motorist whose car was disabled; the other was the tow truck driver who tried to help him.
If you find yourself holding a citation for failing to Steer Clear, call the expert and experienced Pittsburgh criminal lawyers at Logue Law Group. My associates and I can help you get your charges reduced or dismissed. Don’t delay; call us today at (412) 612-2210 or (412) 612-2210. Or, you can contact us online. Someone is available 24/7 to take your call.
If you’re interested in checking up on the facts, this is addressed in the Pennsylvania Traffic Code, Title 75, Section 3327.
Update: September 25, 2017
A revision of this law was signed by Governor Tom Wolfe in July of 2017. The new law indicates that second-time offenders will receive a fine of up to $500, and the fine for a third offense or subsequent could be as high as $1,000. The new fines take effect this month (September 2017.)