§ 40-6-74. Operation of vehicles on approach of authorized emergency vehicles
This statute requires that, if being approached by an emergency vehicle, using BOTH flashing lights and a siren, you must yield the right-of-way to that vehicle. Yielding is described as pulling over to the right, getting as close to the curb as possible and, ultimately, coming to a complete stop. You must also clear any intersection until the emergency vehicle has passed.
First, it’s important to note that BOTH the lights and siren must be active. You often see ambulances engaged in non-emergency transport where they have lights active, but no siren. You do not have to yield under these circumstances. Also, when police are making a traffic stop, they often activate lights without the siren. Again, you do not have to yield (unless, of course, you’re the one being pulled-over).
According to O.C.G.A. §40-5-57, a guilty plea (or conviction) to this statute is a 3 point ticket. Also, it is a misdemeanor offense to violate any section of the traffic code. Misdemeanor offenses include punishment of up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The good news is that prosecutors almost never ask for jail time on such offenses and the fines are usually far lower than the $1,000 maximum allowable under the law. Nonetheless, several municipal courts use fines from such offenses to fund their city budgets and are unwilling to negotiate reductions in their fine when you are unrepresented. Take advantage of your opportunity to consult with an attorney about your citation.
For additional questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 770-322-4990.
- Jason Carnell