Emergency personnel provide a valuable service to the public. Ambulances rush to people’s homes or the scenes of accidents to pick up the injured and take them quickly to the hospital. Often, there is only one holdup—other drivers on the road.
The Texas Transportation Code states that you must move over or slow down when you approach emergency vehicles, including ambulances. If you don’t, get out your checkbook. An officer can hit you with misdemeanor charges and a fine.
Below, our Houston criminal defense attorney lays out what you need to do when you see flashing ambulance lights on the road.
If the Ambulance is Approaching from Behind You
Transportation Code Section 545.156 states you should immediately begin to slow down and pull over as close as you can to the right-hand shoulder or curb. You should also stop your vehicle until the ambulance has passed.
Remember to move to the shoulder in a controlled, safe manner. Obviously, avoid driving too closely to anyone who is already on the shoulder, such as a pedestrian or a parked vehicle.
You can also put your hazard lights on to show you are slowing down. Remember to stay clear of any intersection when stopping.
If the Ambulance is Ahead of You
Texas Transportation Code Section 545.147 tells you what you need to do. If you are on a multi-lane highway, you should merge out of the lane closest to the emergency vehicle. If you are already in the left lane, then remember to let other vehicles merge in with you. They must merge safely and not cause an accident.
If you can’t merge, then you must drop your speed so that you are at least 20 miles per hour under the posted limit. This can mean going only 5 miles per hour if the posted limit is 25 mph or less. Use extreme caution so you do not clip any emergency personnel doing their job.
Which Emergency Vehicles Do You Stop For?
You should yield to the following vehicles:
- Police cars
- Fire trucks
- Highway crews
- Utility service workers
- Tow trucks
- Texas Department of Transportation vehicles
You Can Face Fines
If you break the law, you could face misdemeanor charges, resulting in a maximum $200 fine. Of course, you might also get points added to your driving history, which could result in even more headaches—including a possible license suspension. Something as simple as refusing to pull over for an ambulance could snowball.
If you end up causing a crash, you are facing more serious charges, up to a Class B misdemeanor if someone suffers a bodily injury as a result. Even property damage can increase the penalties.
Speak with Our Houston Criminal Defense Attorney
Traffic tickets seem like minor nuisances until you are facing one. Instead of immediately paying your fine, speak with a Houston traffic ticket lawyer at the Law Office of Tad Nelson & Associates. We can review whether it makes sense to fight the ticket or accept the fine.