National Association of Police Organizations

South Carolina Move Over Law

Originally Implemented in 2002

Includes all Law Enforcement, Emergency Vehicles, First Responders and Tow Trucks

Slow Down and Change Lanes Whenever Possible To Give Them Room

The Law

SECTION 56-5-1538. Emergency scene management; definitions

(A) An emergency scene is a location designated by the potential need to provide emergency medical care and is identified by emergency vehicles with flashing lights, rescue equipment, or emergency personnel on the scene.

(B) An emergency scene is a special hazard.

(C) An emergency scene is under the authority of the first arriving emergency personnel, which includes emergency medical services personnel, until the arrival of the fire or law enforcement officials having jurisdiction. All motor vehicles passing through an emergency scene and pedestrians observing an emergency scene must obey and not interfere with the duties of emergency personnel. Motor vehicles and bystanders may not block access to or exit from an emergency scene.

(D) The management authority of emergency medical services is limited to managing patient care and preventing further injury to the patients and on-scene personnel. This authority may be delegated by emergency personnel to provide an adequate level of safety.

(E) A paid or volunteer worker at an emergency scene has proper authority to be at and control the scene in a manner consistent with his training.

(F) The driver of a vehicle shall ensure that the vehicle is kept under control when approaching or passing an emergency scene or authorized emergency vehicle stopped on or near the right-of-way of a street or highway with emergency lights flashing. The exercise of control required for a driver to comply with this section is that control possible and necessary by the driver to prevent a collision, to prevent injury to persons or property, and to avoid interference with the performance of emergency duties by emergency personnel.

(G) A person driving a vehicle approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle that is giving a signal by displaying alternately flashing red, red and white, blue, or red and blue lights, or amber or yellow warning lights shall proceed with due caution, significantly reduce the speed of the vehicle, and:

(1) yield the right-of-way by making a lane change into a lane not adjacent to that of the authorized emergency vehicle, if possible with due regard to safety and traffic conditions, if on a highway having at least four lanes with not less than two lanes proceeding in the same direction as the approaching vehicle; or

(2) maintain a safe speed for road conditions, if changing lanes is impossible or unsafe.

(H) A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of the misdemeanor of endangering emergency services personnel and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than three hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars.

(I) For purposes of this section:

(1) "Authorized emergency vehicle" means any ambulance, police, fire, rescue, recovery, or towing vehicle authorized by this State, county, or municipality to respond to a traffic incident.

(2) "Emergency services personnel" means fire, police, or emergency medical services personnel (EMS) responding to an emergency incident.



South Carolina law Section 56-5-1538 defines an emergency scene as “a location designated by the potential need to provide emergency medical care.”  It is identified by emergency vehicles with flashing lights, rescue equipment, or emergency personnel on scene. South Carolina’s “Move Over” law also provides protection for highway workers.  Section 56-5-1536 also requires motorists to “move over” into an adjacent lane whenever possible when passing temporary work zones.  A temporary work zone is defined as “an area on a roadway identified by orange work zone signs or equipment with flashing lights, and the presence of workers on the scene.” 

Drivers approaching a temporary work zone or an emergency scene are required by law to:

  • Keep their vehicle under control
  • Proceed with due caution
  • Significantly reduce their vehicle speed
  • Yield the right of way by making a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the temporary work vehicle or equipment if on a highway with at least four lanes, with at least two lanes proceeding in the same direction
  • Maintain the safe speed for road conditions if changing lanes is impossible or unsafe. 


Endangering temporary work zone or emergency personnel is considered a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $300 nor more than $500.  Obeying this little-known law can save a life and prevent injury. 

“The message we are trying to send is that if you see flashing lights, there is a potential hazard ahead,” said SCDPS Director Mark Keel. “Adjust your speed and began moving into the opposing lane. This gives emergency workers room to work. It is common sense but many people don’t realize it’s the law in South Carolina as well as most other states.”

Greenville Deputy Will Richter, who is featured in the law enforcement PSA, was struck and injured in a hit-and-run collision in 2007 while at a traffic stop. In-car video footage from his patrol car is shown in the public service announcement to illustrate the dangers law enforcement officers face each day. Driving Safety Courses