The Common Law

My friend said that she just got a traffic ticket for not slowing down when a police car with flashing lights was stopped on the side of the road. Can you really get a ticket for that?

Cars – New Traffic Laws

My friend said that she just got a traffic ticket for not slowing down when a police car with flashing lights was stopped on the side of the road. Can you really get a ticket for that?

Yes. Last spring the Legislature passed Senate Bill 193, which requires drivers to either slow down or change lanes when they get ready to pass an emergency vehicle that has its emergency lights activated. To comply with the law, the driver must vacate the lane closest to the stopped emergency vehicle if the highway has two or more lanes traveling the direction of the emergency vehicle or slow down to 20 mph below the posted speed limit. If the posted speed limit is below 25 mph then the driver must slow to 5 mph. Under the law, emergency vehicles include police, EMS, and fire vehicles. Failure to change lanes or slow down when you approach these vehicles with their lights on can get you a maximum fine of $200, with harsher penalties if the violation results in property damage or bodily injury. Be sure to change lanes or slow down the next time you see those flashing lights on the side of the road.

While we are on the topic, here are some other quirky new traffic laws you might find interesting:

DVD Drivers: I have bad news for the multitalented drivers that manage to sneak a peek at the car DVD screen while driving. Senate Bill 209 makes it illegal to have a video display system that is visable from the driver's seat. Video equipment that is prohibited by the law includes digital videodisc players, videocassette players and similar equipment.

Too Fast Too Furious: Thinking about taking the family car out for a drag race anytime soon? House Bill 1326 may make you think twice. Under the law, anyone convicted of illegally racing on a public roadway will automatically have their license suspended for one year. The punishment for illegal racing has also been increased to a Class B misdemeanor.

Please submit column suggestions, questions, and comments to thecommonlaw@austinchronicle.com. Submission of potential topics does not create an attorney-client relationship, and any information submitted is subject to being included in future columns.

Marrs, Ellis & Hodge LLP, www.jmehlaw.com.

The material in this column is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute, nor is it a substitute for, legal advice. For advice on your specific facts and circumstances, consult a licensed attorney. You may wish to contact the Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas, a non-profit public service of the Austin Bar Association, at 512-472-8303 or www.austinlrs.com.

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