Eenforcement Operations Take Place This Month in La Salle, Zapata, Jim Hogg and Webb Counties
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is beginning enforcement efforts across the state focusing specifically on violations of the state’s Move Over/Slow Down law. These periodic enforcement operations by DPS Troopers are planned throughout the year at various locations in Texas, with several operations planned in February. The following DPS operations are planned for this month: La Salle County on Monday, Dec. 3; Zapata County on Wednesday, Dec.12; Jim Hogg County, Friday, Dec. 14; and Webb County on Wednesday, Dec. 19.
The law, originally passed in 2003, requires motorists to move over or slow down when certain vehicles – including police, fire, EMS, Texas Department of Transportation vehicles and tow trucks – are stopped on the side of the road with emergency lights activated.
“Our Highway Patrol Troopers and other officers risk their lives every day for the people of Texas, and their safety is particularly vulnerable while working on the side of the road, where the slightest mistake by a passing motorist can end in tragedy,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “While our officers are serving and protecting Texans, we’re asking drivers to do their part by adhering to the law – simply move over or slow down.”
Specifically, Texas law states that a driver must either:
- Vacate the lane closest to the applicable vehicles stopped on the side of the road (if the road has multiple lanes traveling in the same direction), or
- Slow down 20 mph below the speed limit. (If the speed limit is below 25 mph, the driver must slow down to 5 mph.)
Drivers should only move over if they can do so safely and legally; otherwise, they should slow down.
Violations of the law can result in a fine of up to $200; the fine increases to $500 if there is property damage. If violators cause bodily injury, they can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, resulting in possible jail time and a maximum fine of $2,000.
Preliminary data from 2017 shows that DPS issued more than 10,650 warnings and citations to motorists violating the Move Over/Slow Down law.
TEXAS TRANSPORTATION CODE Sec. 545.157. PASSING CERTAIN VEHICLES. (a) This section applies only to the following vehicles: (1) a stationary authorized emergency vehicle using visual signals that meet the requirements of Sections 547.305 and 547.702; (2) a stationary tow truck using equipment authorized by Section 547.305(d); and (3) a Texas Department of Transportation vehicle not separated from the roadway by a traffic control channelizing device and using visual signals that comply with the standards and specifications adopted under Section 547.105. (b) On approaching a vehicle described by Subsection (a), an operator, unless otherwise directed by a police officer, shall: (1) vacate the lane closest to the vehicle when driving on a highway with two or more lanes traveling in the direction of the vehicle; or (2) slow to a speed not to exceed: (A) 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit when the posted speed limit is 25 miles per hour or more; or (B) five miles per hour when the posted speed limit is less than 25 miles per hour. (c) A violation of this section is: (1) a misdemeanor punishable under Section 542.401; (2) a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $500 if the violation results in property damage; or (3) a Class B misdemeanor if the violation results in bodily injury. (d) If conduct constituting an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under another section of this code or the Penal Code, the actor may be prosecuted under either section or under both sections. (e) In this section: (1) “Tow truck” means a vehicle that: (A) has been issued a permit under Subchapter C, Chapter 2308, Occupations Code; and (B) is operated by a person licensed under Subchapter D, Chapter 2308, Occupations Code. (2) “Traffic control channelizing device” means equipment used to warn and alert drivers of conditions created by work activities in or near the traveled way, to protect workers in a temporary traffic control zone, and to guide drivers and pedestrians safely. The term includes a traffic cone, tubular marker, vertical panel, drum, barricade, temporary raised island, concrete or cable barrier, guardrail, or channelizer. Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 327, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2003. Amended by: Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 229 (H.B. 378), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2011. Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 6 (S.B. 510), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2013.