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Yielding when APPROACHING an Emergency Vehicle

"They get you coming or going!" Isn't that the old saying? Well, between O.C.G.A. §§40-6-16 and 40-6-74, it's true.

In a previous article (see here) I explained how a Georgia motorist might find himself slapped with a citation for failing to yield when BEING APPROACHED by an emergency vehicle (§40-6-74).

Well, there's another statute on the, awfully thick, books. It's called "Spencer Pass Law" and is designed to hit you with some payin' paper for APPROACHING an emergency vehicle which is on the side of the road.

The purpose of the law is to get you to slow down and/or move over when an emergency vehicle is on the side of the road in service. The net result of the law is to cause unimaginably worse traffic in the Atlanta area whenever an emergency vehicle is on the side of the road.

In order to be cited under O.C.G.A. §40-6-16, you must be approaching:

1)     Any authorized emergency vehicle or a towing or highway maintenance vehicle

2)     Which is stationary and

3)     Flashing its emergency lights

 How can you avoid being cited?

 1)     Make a lane change into the lane "not adjacent to the authorized emergency vehicle IF POSSIBLE in the existing safety and traffic conditions; or"

2)     If a lane change is not possible, reduce speed "to a reasonable and proper speed for the existing road and traffic conditions. . ." This reduced speed must be something less than the posted speed limit.

 If there is one redeeming aspect of this statute it's that there are questions of fact and judgment as to whether or not you're actually in violation of the law. This means that a determined motorist can fight a citation like this with the right traffic offense attorney. You can obviously argue that it was unsafe or impossible to change lanes and that you had reduced speed to what was safe and possible given the circumstances.

The maximum fine you can expect to be hit with, under the statute, is $500. Of course, you can expect to be hit with an additional 40% surcharge for "court costs" as part of any plea.

For more information, you can visit my website at You can contact me via email at [email protected] or by phone at 770-729-4809.

 - Jason Carnell

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