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Fight Your Ticket For Not Moving Over For Emergency Vehicle
Approaching, following emergency vehicles
Stop on approach of vehicle with flashing lights or bell or siren sounding
159 (1) The driver of a vehicle, upon the approach of a police department vehicle with its bell or siren sounding or with its lamp producing intermittent flashes of red light or red and blue light, or upon the approach of an ambulance, fire department vehicle or public utility emergency vehicle with its bell or siren sounding or its lamp producing intermittent flashes of red light, shall immediately bring such vehicle to a standstill,
(a) as near as is practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway and parallel therewith and clear of any intersection; or
(b) when on a roadway having more than two lanes for traffic and designated for the use of one-way traffic, as near as is practicable to the nearest curb or edge of the roadway and parallel therewith and clear of any intersection. 2009, c. 5, s. 49.
Slow down on approaching stopped emergency vehicle or tow truck
(2) Upon approaching an emergency vehicle with its lamp producing intermittent flashes of red light or red and blue light or a tow truck with its lamp producing intermittent flashes of amber light that is stopped on a highway, the driver of a vehicle travelling on the same side of the highway shall slow down and proceed with caution, having due regard for traffic on and the conditions of the highway and the weather, to ensure that the driver does not collide with the emergency vehicle or tow truck or endanger any person outside of the emergency vehicle or tow truck. 2015, c. 14, s. 47.
(3) Upon approaching an emergency vehicle with its lamp producing intermittent flashes of red light or red and blue light or a tow truck with its lamp producing intermittent flashes of amber light that is stopped on a highway with two or more lanes of traffic on the same side of the highway as the side on which the emergency vehicle or tow truck is stopped, the driver of a vehicle travelling in the same lane that the emergency vehicle or tow truck is stopped in or in a lane that is adjacent to the emergency vehicle or tow truck, in addition to slowing down and proceeding with caution as required by subsection (2), shall move into another lane if the movement can be made safely. 2015, c. 14, s. 47.
Following fire department vehicle
(4) No driver of a vehicle shall follow in any lane of a roadway at a distance of less than 150 metres a fire department vehicle responding to an alarm. 2009, c. 5, s. 49.
Stop on approaching emergency vehicle or tow truck
(5) Nothing in subsection (2) or (3) prevents a driver from stopping his or her vehicle and not passing the stopped emergency vehicle or tow truck if stopping can be done safely and is not otherwise prohibited by law. 2015, c. 14, s. 47.
(6) Every person who contravenes subsection (1), (2), (3) or (4) is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable,
(a) for a first offence, to a fine of not less than $400 and not more than $2,000; and
(b) for each subsequent offence, to a fine of not less than $1,000 and not more than $4,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both. 2009, c. 5, s. 49.
Time limit for subsequent offence
(7) An offence referred to in subsection (6) committed more than five years after a previous conviction for an offence referred to in that subsection is not a subsequent offence for the purpose of clause (6) (b). 2009, c. 5, s. 49.
Driver’s license suspension
(8) If a person is convicted of an offence under subsection (6), the court may make an order suspending the person’s driver’s license for a period of not more than two years. 2009, c. 5, s. 49.
Appeal of suspension
(9) An appeal may be taken from an order under subsection (8) or a decision to not make the order in the same manner as from a conviction or an acquittal under subsection (6). 2009, c. 5, s. 49.
Stay of order on appeal
(10) Where an appeal is taken under subsection (9) from an order under subsection (8), the court being appealed to may direct that the order shall be stayed pending the final disposition of the appeal or until otherwise ordered by that court. 2009, c. 5, s. 49.
(11) In this section,
“emergency vehicle” means,
(a) an ambulance, fire department vehicle, police department vehicle or public utility emergency vehicle,
(b) a ministry vehicle operated by an officer appointed for carrying out the provisions of this Act, while the officer is in the course of his or her employment,
(c) a vehicle while operated by a conservation officer, fishery officer, provincial park officer or mine rescue training officer, while the officer is in the course of his or her employment,
(d) a vehicle while operated by a provincial officer designated under the Environmental Protection Act, the Nutrient Management Act, 2002, the Ontario Water Resources Act, the Pesticides Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002 or the Toxics Reduction Act, 2009, while the officer is in the course of his or her employment, or
(e) a vehicle as prescribed for the purposes of paragraph 5 of subsection 62 (15.1). 2009, c. 5, s. 49; 2009, c. 19, s. 68 (4); 2020, c. 34, Sched. 23, s. 7 (16).
The typical wording on a ticket for this offence is “Fail to Stop on Right for Emergency Vehicle” or “Fail to Stop – Nearest Curb – For Emergency Vehicle”. This charge can be found in the Highway Traffic Act Section 159, subsection 1. Whatever wording the officer used on your ticket, the total demerit points associated with the charge in Ontario is three. This legislation is commonly known as the “Move Over Law”. The ticket fine and the demerit points for this offence are costly. You will need the help of OTD Legal. Please contact our office for your free consultation. This legislation is not considered to be new legislation, however, there is one recent amendment to Section 159 of the Highway Traffic Act. It is as follows:
(b) A ministry vehicle operated by an officer appointed for carrying out the provision of this act while the officer is in the course of his or her employment.
When an emergency vehicle is approaching your vehicle from any direction with its flashing red or blue lights and siren or bell sounding, you are required to bring your vehicle to an immediate stop on the right side of the road. Emergency vehicles include marked and unmarked police vehicles, tow trucks, fire trucks, ambulances, Ministry of Transportation vehicles, and volunteer medical responders using their own vehicles. When stopping, you are required to bring your vehicle as close as is practical to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. When on a one-way road or divided highway having more than two lanes of traffic, move to the closest curb or edge of the roadway. Your vehicle should be parallel to the roadway and clear of any intersections, including highway on/off ramps. Do not move onto or stop on the shoulder of the roadway, as emergency vehicles may be travelling along it.
Use extreme caution when stopping your vehicle because other drivers may not yet be aware of the approaching emergency vehicle and the emergency vehicle will likely be travelling over the posted speed limit. Look to the front, both sides, and toward the rear of your vehicle, signal your intention to pull over well in advance, and begin to adjust your vehicle’s speed to merge with any traffic to the side you are pulling to. Once you have moved your vehicle to the side, brake gradually as required and bring your vehicle to a safe stop. Avoid any sudden changes in direction or excessive braking, and be aware of any vehicles approaching fast to the rear of your vehicle.
If you are in an intersection and preparing to make a turn when an emergency vehicle is approaching, you should abandon the turn and clear the intersection by proceeding straight when safe to do so, then pull to the right and stop. This will clear the intersection and minimize the possibility of a collision with the emergency vehicle should it be passing you on the side you intended to turn toward.
When the emergency vehicle has passed, check to make sure the way is clear and signal before merging back into traffic. Remain vigilant for additional emergency vehicles, and remember it is illegal to follow within 150 meters of a fire vehicle responding to an alarm. If you follow a firetruck responding to an emergency, you could be charged under section 159, subsection 4 of the Highway Traffic Act. Typical wording for this charge is “Follow Fire Department Vehicle Too Closely”. Like the other subsections under section 159, this charge also carries three demerit points.
Note: Some firefighters and volunteer medical responders may display a flashing green light when using their own vehicles to respond to a fire or medical emergency. Please yield the right-of-way to help them respond to an emergency call quickly and safely.
Police or other enforcement officers may require you to pull over and bring your vehicle to an immediate stop. Typically, the officer may signal this requirement by driving their vehicle with its emergency lights flashing and/or siren on behind your vehicle or by using hand gestures from the side of the road. When stopping your vehicle, follow the previous procedures, except that you should bring your vehicle to a stop outside of traffic lanes and onto the shoulder of the roadway where possible, or turn and stop on a side street with less traffic if in the immediate vicinity. If the officer gives direction as to where to stop, follow the officer’s directions.
How To Stay Alert When An Emergency Vehicle Approaches In Traffic
When you see an approaching emergency vehicle with its lights or siren on, prepare to clear the way and do the following:
React quickly but calmly.
Don’t slam on the brakes or pull over suddenly. Use your signals to alert other drivers you intend to pull over.
Check your rearview mirrors.
Look in front and on both sides of your vehicle. Allow other vehicles to also pull over. Pull to the right and gradually come to a stop.
Wait for the emergency vehicle to pass.
Watch for other emergency vehicles that may be responding to the same call. Check to make sure the way is clear, signal before merging back into traffic, and proceed with caution.
Don’t drive on or block the shoulder on freeways.
Emergency vehicles will use the shoulder of the road if all lanes are blocked.
The typical wording on a ticket for this offence is “Fail to Slow Down and Proceed with Caution for Emergency Vehicle or Tow Truck” or “Fail to Move into Another Lane for Emergency Vehicle or Tow Truck if Safe To Do”. This charge can be found in the Highway Traffic Act Section 159, subsections 2 or 3. Whatever wording the officer used on your ticket, the total demerit points associated with the charge in Ontario is three. This legislation also falls under what is commonly referred to as the “Move Over Law”.
When approaching any emergency vehicle that is stopped with its red or red and blue lights flashing or a tow truck with its amber lights flashing in the same direction of your travel, you are required to reduce the speed of your vehicle and proceed with caution. When reducing your speed, you are required to assess the speed of the surrounding traffic and the condition of the roadway (such as fog, rain, snow). To be safe, brake early and gradually to allow surrounding traffic to better adjust to a reduced speed and to ensure you have full control of your vehicle when braking. If your vehicle has a manual transmission, it is recommended that you use your brakes, versus shifting down to a lower gear, in order to activate your rear brake lights and indicate to other drivers that you are slowing down. When the roadway has two or more lanes of traffic in the same direction of your travel, you are required to move into a lane away from the emergency vehicle or tow truck, if safe to do so, in addition to reducing the speed of your vehicle and proceeding with caution. Similar to the procedures noted above, when slowing down and moving over, look in front and on both sides of your vehicle, and check your rearview mirrors to determine the speed of the traffic around you and the condition of the roadway. Decrease your speed to match surrounding traffic speed, use your turn signal prior to making the lane change, double-check your rearview mirrors, and shoulder-check your blind spots to ensure no other vehicles are moving into or approaching that lane too fast. When safe to do so, change lanes well in advance of an emergency vehicle or a stopped tow truck with its flashing amber lights. Once in the lane, brake gradually and continue to reduce the speed of your vehicle when safe to do so. Be aware of any vehicles approaching fast to the rear of your vehicle.
Tips to Remember
- Stay alert. Avoid distractions. Keep the noise level down in your vehicle.
- Remain calm, and do not make sudden lane changes or brake excessively.
- Before changing direction or speed, consider road conditions, check surrounding traffic, use your mirrors, look to blind spots, and signal and brake early.
- Keep roadway shoulders, intersections, and highway ramps clear for emergency vehicle use.
- If your vehicle is being pulled over, in this instance, bring it to a safe stop on the shoulder of the roadway, away from traffic, following any directions from the officer.
Failing to Respond to an Emergency Vehicle
Take emergency flashing lights and sirens seriously. Proceed with caution, clear the way, and bring your vehicle to a stop, where required. It’s the law. If you don’t stop, you can be fined and get three demerit points for a first offence, which will be reflected on your driver’s record and visible to your insurance. For additional offences, the fines increase, and you could also go to jail for up to six months. Please note the above law, fines, and penalties are also applicable to a tow truck with its lamp producing intermittent flashes of amber light that is stopped on a highway. This information can be found in Section 159 of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA).
What Should I Do If I Am Charged With Failing To Stop For An Emergency Vehicle?
If you are charged by a police officer, it is important to immediately seek out the information you will need to make important legal decisions. Being unaware of the law or the court process can result in mistakes that can result in a conviction and penalties that will impact your license and insurance rate. Obtaining legal representation puts a licensed, knowledgeable, and experienced paralegal in the courtroom on your behalf to protect your interests in reducing or eliminating the consequences of a possible conviction. If you have been charged by the police, our team is here to help you. OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services provides a no-cost, no-commitment initial consultation to assist you.
Have You Been Charged With Failing To Pull Over For An Emergency Vehicle In Ontario?
If you’ve been charged with failing to pull over for an emergency vehicle in Ontario under the Highway Traffic Act Section 159 you should contact us as soon as possible. We have skill and experience in helping drivers just like you who have been accused of failing to pull over for an emergency vehicle. We provide free, confidential consultations. We help drivers throughout Ontario including Kitchener, Georgetown, London, Windsor and from our home office in Cambridge. Contact us online, call us directly at 1-844-647-6869, or text a copy of your ticket to 226-240-2480.