National Association of Police Organizations

Texas Move Over Law

Originally Implemented in 2003

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

Slow Down and Change Lanes Whenever Possible To Give Them Room

The Law

The Texas Transportation Code 545.157 requires drivers nearing stopped emergency vehicles-with lights activated -to either slow down or change lanes.

The law states a driver must either vacate the lane closest to the stopped emergency vehicle if the road has multiple lanes traveling in the same direction or slow down 20 miles per hour below the speed limit. (If the speed limit is below 25 mph the driver must slow down to 5 mph.)

Emergency vehicles include police, emergency medical service and fire vehicles.

A violation is punishable by a maximum fine of $200. If the violation results in property damage, the maximum fine increases to $500. If the violation results in bodily injury, the offense is enhanced to a Class B misdemeanor.

The law was passed in the Texas Legislature and went into effect Sept. 1, 2003.


DPS Urges Drivers to Move Over, Slow Down for Tow Trucks

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) will now place special enforcement emphasis on the addition of tow trucks to the Move Over/Slow Down law, which requires motorists to move over or slow down when certain vehicles are stopped on the side of the road with emergency lights activated. To remind the public of this important safety measure, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will activate electronic signs which will read: If Tow Truck Stopped Ahead, Move Over or Slow Down, It’s The Law.

“This law is about providing extra protection for those individuals on the side of the road doing their jobs, as well as the people on the roadside with them,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “Thanks to this new provision, tow truck drivers, who are usually helping motorists in distress, now have additional protection under the law so they can do their jobs in a safer environment.”

During the 2011 Legislative session, tow trucks were added to the existing law, which already applied to police, fire, and EMS vehicles stopped on the side of the road with emergency lights activated. Motorists are required to vacate the lane closest to the stopped vehicle (if there is more than one available lane in the same direction of travel) or slow to 20 miles below the speed limit.

“Last year, the Texas Legislature amended the Move Over/Slow Down law to now require motorists to slow down or move over when passing a tow truck displaying emergency lights,” said Carol Rawson, TxDOT Traffic Operations director. “At TxDOT, we believe this is an important step toward improving safety for all emergency personnel, including tow truck operators, who routinely work in dangerous conditions along Texas highways.”

DPS issued more than 17,000 warning and citations last year for violation of the Move Over/Slow Down law and another 6,000 through the first five months of this year.  Violation of this law could result in fines up to $200. The punishment is more severe if there is property damage, and jail time is possible if someone is injured. Driving Safety Courses