Passing an Emergency Vehicle in North Carolina

If you regularly drive a car, you have probably encountered a police vehicle, fire truck, or rescue squad zoom by with their sirens blaring. Because you are probably an upstanding citizen, you probably pulled over to the side of the road to allow the vehicle to pass per the admonitions given to all drivers before receiving a license. If you don’t, you may want to consider what North Carolina law has to say about failing to do so.

When an emergency vehicle is responding to an emergency, any nearby driver heading in the same direction as the emergency vehicle, or blocking it, must stop so that it can safely pass through road traffic.

All drivers are legally obligated to do this when an emergency vehicle is:

  1. “traveling in response to … [an] emergency;” and
  2. “giving warning signal by appropriate light and by audible bell, siren or exhaust whistle, audible under normal conditions from a distance not less than 1000 feet.” See N.C.G.S. 20-157

Drivers must remain stopped until after an emergency vehicle clears their vehicles, or until a law enforcement officer otherwise indicates that drivers may continue normal driving.

Most of the time, this offense is charged as a class 2 misdemeanor. However passing an emergency vehicle can be upgraded to a class 1 misdemeanor if offending driver causes $500 or more in property damage while in commission of the offense. Further, the offense can be charged as a felony if committing the offense leads to serious bodily injury to an officer or emergency responder.

Depending on the county in which you have been charged, there may be several different options for favorably resolving the charge of passing an emergency vehicle in North Carolina.

Quality Advocacy for Traffic Violations in North Carolina

To make sure you have considered all your legal options, consult a Raleigh traffic attorney with experience handling traffic violations. At Cotten Law Firm, PLLC, we have experience handling traffic violation cases, from minor speeding infractions to more significant offenses, like racing and speed competition.

Give us a call to discuss your North Carolina traffic ticket anytime at (919) 587-8544 or contact us online.