• 2024 Changes to Florida's Move Over Law

2024 Changes to Florida’s Move Over Law

Are you looking to fight criminal charges that resulted from being pulled over under Florida’s updated Move Over Law? On January 1, 2024, changes went into effect and have led to a surge in traffic stops. Law enforcement across Florida has used this law as an excuse to stop vehicles and then do a sobriety test or vehicle search, racking up further charges such as a DUI or drug charges.

If you were unlawfully stopped in the first place, you have options to contest these charges by consulting with a criminal defense attorney. We’ll explore what these legal updates mean for contesting your charges and help you understand how to strengthen your defense as you prepare to defend your case.

What is Florida’s Move Over Law and How Has it Changed?

Previously, the Move Over Law in Florida required you to move over or slow down for emergency vehicles. Effective Jan. 1, 2024, this law has been expanded to include any vehicle on the side of the road. If you can’t move over, you must slow down to 20 mph. Now the only time you don’t have to heed the law is if there is an abandoned vehicle without any hazard lights flashing.

The original law of 2002 was enacted for the safety of law enforcement officers and emergency responders attending to roadside emergencies. The new changes to Florida’s Move Over Law reflect the state’s commitment to improving road safety for all after seeing data on traffic accidents.

According to a study by AAA, almost 25% of drivers don’t know about “move over” laws. Every year nationwide, around 350 people are hit and killed while outside a broken-down car. In Florida specifically, there were 112 deaths from 2016 to 2020.

The 2024 Changes in Florida’s Move Over Law You Need to Know

Below is a detailed look at the significant amendments:

Drivers Must Heed Hazard Lights

The law now mandates that drivers approaching emergency or service vehicles displaying hazard lights must move over to an adjacent lane.

Slowing Down

When a lane change is impossible, drivers are required to reduce their speed by at least 20 mph below the posted limit.

Expanded Protection

A critical expansion includes stationary vehicles with visible occupants. This addition extends protections beyond traditional emergency vehicles.

Stranded Motorists and Construction Workers

Specifically, if a driver encounters stranded motorists or construction workers with their vehicle’s hazard lights activated, the same “move over or slow down” provisions apply.

How the Revised Move Over Law Affects You

More Stops Leading to Criminal Charges

When Florida’s Move Over Law changes went into effect on January 1, 2024, there was a noticeable surge in the number of traffic stops. These frequently lead to further criminal charges, which have much more serious results than the standard fine (which has also been raised). The expanded scope of the law and stricter enforcement have resulted in drivers being caught unaware of these new rules and facing legal problems.

Higher Fines and Penalties

An additional effect to note is higher fines and penalties for violations. Drivers found guilty of not moving over could face fines ranging from $60 to $158 in addition to the court fees if they decide to contest further criminal charges. The financial burden, however, doesn’t stop there.

Impact on Driving Record and Insurance Rates

Violations of the Move Over Law and further charges can have lasting effects on your driving record and insurance rates. Points will be added to your record for each violation, which can result in higher insurance premiums.

How Crackdowns and Enforcement Efforts Are Causing Even More Criminal Charges

In response to the increasing number of accidents and non-compliance, law enforcement agencies are cracking down to improve road safety and encourage compliance with this law. However, police officers take advantage of this opportunity to look for any additional charges or arrests. Drivers then may face serious charges, which is why it is crucial to seek legal guidance from a criminal defense attorney with experience in handling charges from Move Over stops.

Here are the ways police look for chances to pull you over and charge you for crimes:

Law Enforcement Operations

Examples like this are taking place allover Florida. The St. Petersburg Police Department is conducting targeted operations to identify and penalize violators. The efforts are particularly focused in the high-speed areas of Gandy Boulevard, Roosevelt Boulevard, and Ulmerton Road. These operations may involve:

  • Stings: Officers posing as stranded motorists or roadside workers to catch drivers who don’t move over. The goal is to deter dangerous driving behavior and foster respect for the law.
  • Crackdown on Leaving the Scene of an Accident: Since accidents are a major concern, law enforcement agencies are also focusing on penalizing drivers who leave the scene of an accident without fulfilling their legal obligations.

How to Contest and Defend Against Criminal Charges After a Move Over Stop

It is important to take the following steps seriously to fight charges stemming from a move over stop in Florida. Your criminal defense attorney will work to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense following a move over stop in Florida, you should take the following steps to contest and defend against the charges:

Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney: It is crucial to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you navigate the legal system and build a strong defense on your behalf.

Gather Evidence: Your attorney will need to gather evidence to support your case, such as witness statements, dashcam footage, or any other relevant documentation.

Review the Evidence: Your attorney will carefully review the evidence against you to identify any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.

Build a Defense Strategy: Based on the evidence and circumstances of your case, your attorney will develop a defense strategy to challenge the charges against you.

Negotiate with Prosecution: Your attorney may negotiate with the prosecution to seek a plea deal or reduced charges, if possible.

Prepare for Trial: If a plea deal is not possible or you choose to go to trial, your attorney will prepare you for court and represent you in the legal proceedings.

What Kinds of Evidence Helps to Beat the Charges?

Contesting a case often hinges on the strength of the evidence presented in defense. When charged with a violation of Florida’s updated Move Over Law, it is imperative to understand which types of evidence could support your case:

  1. Dashcam Footage: Video recordings can provide irrefutable proof of the circumstances surrounding the alleged offense.
  2. Photographic Evidence: Photos of the scene, including road conditions, signage visibility, and vehicle positions, can be crucial.
  3. Witness Statements: Credible accounts from passengers or bystanders who observed the incident can bolster your defense.
  4. GPS Data: Information from navigation devices that logs speed and location might demonstrate compliance with the law.
  5. Traffic and Weather Reports: These might indicate external factors contributing to your ability to move over safely.

Seeking Legal Representation from a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney

When fighting criminal charges from the updated and strict Move Over Law, it’s crucial to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. These specialized lawyers have the knowledge and experience needed to create effective defense strategies for each unique situation.

Benefits of Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney:

  1. Expertise in Traffic Law: A deep understanding of the law ensures that all possible defenses are explored.
  2. Strategic Defense Planning: Skilled attorneys analyze the details of your case and develop strong defense plans.
  3. Negotiation Skills: Experienced lawyers can often negotiate lower penalties or alternative solutions.
  4. Confidence in Court: If your case goes to trial, having a confident St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney with you can make a big difference.

Contact Our Criminal Defense Attorneys for a Free Consultation

Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is here to help. With over 65 years of experience, our team has the expertise to guide you through the complexities of fighting a criminal charge.

Why navigate this process alone when you can have a seasoned attorney by your side?

Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is offering a free consultation for those facing criminal charges after being stopped for a Move Over Law violation. This is your opportunity to discuss your case, understand your options, and strategize the most effective defense.

Sean McQuaid