Houghtaling-Downey Bill Strengthening Move Over Law Passes Senate

TRENTON - This Thursday, the Senate passed the “Slow Down or More Over, It’s the Law Act,” sponsored by Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey in effort to strengthen the protections provided by the “Move Over Law” for emergency workers on New Jersey roads.

The “Move Over Law” was created in response to the tragic death of Trooper Marc Castellano, who was struck and killed by a driver who failed to move over for his service vehicle. Under the law, motorists must reduce speed and change lanes when approaching an authorized emergency vehicle, tow or highway maintenance truck, and emergency or sanitation service vehicle that has its flashing, blinking or alternating emergency lights on.

“Violators of the ‘Move Over Law’ are putting police officers and other emergency personnel at serious risk of injury or death,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth).

“We’ve been humbled to fight for this bill alongside Trooper Castellano’s mother, Donna Setaro. Donna fought hard to pass the original ‘Move Over Law’ in the wake of her son’s death, and we hope that this legislation will help make sure that no other parent has to endure the same loss. I’m grateful to all of the law enforcement officers and families who have supported our efforts to pass this legislation, and we look forward to seeing it become law.”

The bill (A-3890) would require a driver who fails to abide by the “Move Over Law” to incur two motor vehicle points on their driver’s license should they fail to reduce their speed and change lanes when approaching an authorized emergency vehicle, tow or highway maintenance truck, or emergency or sanitation service vehicle that has their flashing, blinking or alternating emergency lights on. Accumulating points may result in additional penalties, including surcharges and license suspension.

Currently, violators of the “Move Over Law” are subject to a fine between $100 and $500.

Since Trooper Castellano’s passing, four Manchester Township Police Officers were struck on State Highway 37, and a Brick Township Police Officer’s patrol car was hit while an officer was inside the vehicle. Both incidents were the result of drivers failing to move over.

“As the daughter of a retired State Trooper, I know the dangers that our state’s law enforcement officers face every day,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). "Even something as simple as a traffic stop or standard emergency response can turn deadly if a driver is ignoring the laws or failing to pay attention. That’s why our bill gives the ‘Move Over Law’ new teeth, with the goal to prevent future tragedies and make clear that this is not an issue that New Jersey takes lightly.”

“Too many drivers either don’t know about the Move Over Law or simply don’t adhere to it,” said Senator Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch), a sponsor of the bill in the Senate. “By increasing the penalty for violating this important traffic law, we hope to encourage drivers to slow down and move over when passing emergency vehicles, highway maintenance, tow trucks or other vehicles and personnel on the side of the road. When drivers move over, they may be saving a life.”

The amended law also calls for the Division of Highway Traffic Safety in the Department of Law and Public Safety to conduct a public awareness campaign to inform drivers of the increased penalty. If enacted, it would go into effect in July of 2020.

The bill now heads to the Governor's desk to be signed.

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