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Is it true that you can break the speed limit if there’s an emergency?

On Behalf of | Aug 21, 2023 | Traffic tickets

In an emergency, people often do whatever they think they need to do to resolve the situation successfully. They may not stop to think about whether their actions are legal, and they may even assume that some laws and regulations are waived due to their circumstances.

Perhaps the most common example of this assumption occurs when someone is in labor. They need to go to the hospital and have a baby, and they need to get there as quickly as possible. They – or whomever is driving them – may break the speed limit on the way to the hospital, claiming that they don’t have to worry about getting a ticket because they would just tell the officer that a baby’s birth is imminent. Is that how it works?

There is no emergency speed limit

There’s no “emergency speed limit” that takes precedence over the normal speed limit. Whatever the posted limit is on that road, it applies in all situations. The emergency does not override that law, and police officers certainly can still pull speeding drivers over and give them traffic tickets even if those motorists are experiencing emergency circumstances.

So why do you hear stories of the police escorting people to the hospital? It’s because an officer does have the option to do so. They may do so in an effort to keep the roads safer. An escort to the hospital may be the safest option at that moment. The officer can be empathic and help if they believe it’s reasonable to do so.

But an officer doesn’t have to provide an escort, and they can still give a driver a traffic ticket even if they do. An emergency doesn’t give someone the right to break traffic laws – and that goes beyond speeding to things like running red lights, rolling through stop signs or making unsafe lane changes.

Have you gotten a citation?

Unfortunately, due to how prevalent this myth is, you may have already gotten a traffic ticket doing something that you didn’t think was illegal at the time. It’s very important that you understand all the legal options you have and what steps you can take moving forward. Depending on your circumstances, it may be possible to fight your ticket successfully.