Maryland Drivers Face Expanded Liability Under

Maryland Drivers Face Expanded Liability Under "Move Over Law," "Block the Box"

Maryland drivers, dubbed the worst in the nation by Allstate Insurance, will see the expanded reach on Oct. 1 of a little-known law that requires drivers to slow down or to move to another lane when coming upon emergency, transportation, service and utility vehicles as well as waste and recycling vehicles that have their lights flashing.

The law, which was originally meant to protect the occupants of emergency response and law enforcement vehicles conducting business on the side of the road, has been expanded to include other types of vehicles. The law now also applies to transportation, service and utility vehicles, as well as waste and recycling trucks, with yellow or amber flashing lights.

Maryland’s “Move Over” law is aimed at making the roads safer for emergency responders and those who have to work along the side of the road. Serious personal injury and deaths have occurred as a result of vehicles striking disabled and stopped vehicles or motorists who are outside of their vehicles because of emergency circumstances. At least three State Highway Administration employees have died in recent years while working on Maryland’s highways. According to SHA, while work-zone crashes have recently decreased, there were six fatalities in 2016 and nine in 2015. The law has been on the books since 2010.

Lawmakers want to provide an extra barrier of safety for police officers, firefighters, emergency rescue personnel, tow service operators and other public safety personnel working along Maryland roads, a Maryland state police commander told the Baltimore Sun.

The law isn’t unique to Maryland. Twenty-nine states, including Maryland, have enacted “move over” laws. But, many drivers are unaware of the law. A recent poll conducted by the National Safety Commission showed that 71 percent of Americans are unfamiliar with “move over” laws; even though, in Maryland, the Motor Vehicle Administration has publicized the law on its overhead highway monitors.

But, the law is enforced. According to a story in the Baltimore Sun, police issued more than 2400 citations in 2013 to those who failed to move over when coming upon emergency vehicles. Violation of the “Move Over” law is a misdemeanor with a fine of $110 and one point assessed by the MVA. A driver may be pulled over exclusively due to the violation. If the violation contributes to a traffic accident, the fine is $150 and three points assessed by the MVA. If the violation contributes to a traffic crash resulting in death or serious injury, the fine is $750 and three points assessed by the MVA.

Another law will also affect Maryland motorists. Drivers who block downtown Baltimore intersections with their cars starting Oct. 1 risk receiving $125 fines for what’s commonly known as “blocking the box.” Under a new city law, police and traffic enforcement officers have the authority to begin issuing tickets for the violation, which is viewed as worsening traffic jams, especially during the morning and afternoon rush hours.

If you are charged with causing a motor vehicle accident or have been involved in a motor vehicle accident in Maryland, you should talk to a Baltimore auto accident attorney. A Baltimore car accident lawyer can help. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas J. Maronick have experience handling these cases. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 202.288.0167, the law office at 410.934.3007 or via our website for a free consultation.