Scott’s Law was a law that came to be after a Chicago firefighter was killed by a drunken driver while providing medical assistance on the side of the road. To ensure Lieutenant Scott Gillen was not forgotten and to reduce the likelihood that a similar accident would happen to a first responder, Illinois enacted Scott’s Law, which requires drivers to reduce their speed and move over a lane if possible when approaching any vehicle on the side of the road with their hazards on.
Although the law has been on the books for years in Illinois, it’s only been loosely enforced. In 2018, fewer than two people a day received a citation for violating Scott’s Law, as officers only handed out 728 citations on the year. But due to an increase in drivers striking emergency vehicles and a renewed effort to crack down on violators, tickets have spiked in 2019. Through November 3, police have already issued more than 6,000, more than eight times the citations handed out last year.
Fighting And Avoiding A Scott’s Law Citation
One of the reasons for the renewed effort to crack down on Scott’s Law violators is that there has been an increase in crashes with police and emergency vehicles. 26 trooper squad cars have been struck in 2019, including three just last week. Two officers died as a result of these collisions.
Not only are police more vigilant in looking for offenders, Illinois has also increased the penalties for first offenders. Currently, the minimum penalty for a first offense citation is $250, but beginning in January, that will jump to a $500 minimum fine. A second offense currently has a $750 fine, but that too will increase in January, jumping to a $1,000 minimum fine. The maximum fine of $10,000 will remain unchanged.
The fines should be enough to get you to slow down and move over, but there’s also the possibility of jail time if you cause an accident. Motorists who cause death or physical harm in violation of Scott’s Law can be charged with a Class 2 felony, which is punishable by between three and seven years in jail. There’s also the potential suspension of your driver’s license.
The best way to avoid a Scott’s Law ticket it to keep your eyes on the road and move over at the first sign of a vehicle parked on the side of the road. Smartphones and other distractions are taking our eyes off the road, but considering Illinois recently went hands-free in regards to device use behind the wheel, there’s no reason not to have your eyes on the road in front of you. Even if it looks like the vehicle is parked far enough off the road that you don’t need to move over, you never know where the people are going to be, so be safe and move over a lane.
Challenging a citation can be tricky, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a legitimate case. If you slowed down but couldn’t safely move over, you may have a chance to have your citation thrown out. We can help prove that you used caution when moving past the emergency vehicles even though you didn’t change lanes. The law only requires you to move over if you can do so safely, so if a line of cars are blocking your path or the vehicle was hidden behind a curve and you didn’t have time to safely react, you may have a case.
If you believe you were unjustly ticketed under Scott’s Law, reach out to the experienced lawyers at Appelman & Lloyd to see how we can help contest your case. Keep your eyes on the road and move over for stopped police and emergency vehicles, but if you end up being wrongly cited under the law, contact our office for professional legal assistance.