Scott’s Law – Also Known As The Illinois “Move Over” Law

Scott’s Law is an Illinois law that has recently been getting more attention – and more enforcement. One reason for the increasing recognition is a surge in Illinois State Police (ISP) Troopers who have been hit by passing vehicles. These Troopers were pulled over at the time of the accidents, with emergency lights activated. As of March 25, 2019, 14 ISP Troopers had been hit by passing vehicles in 2019.

Scott’s Law is also known as the “Move Over” law. It can also be considered the “Rules Of The Road” when a driver approaches emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road. It dictates lawful operation with regard to passing a stopped emergency vehicle with its flashing lights activated. It is a regulation with the goal of avoiding accidents and the accompanying injuries and deaths that can occur.

The two main directives from the law is to 

  • slow down and 
  • move over when there is a stopped emergency vehicle, or a maintenance or construction vehicle with flashing lights. These flashing lights can be of various colors. Applicable emergency or maintenance vehicles include fire trucks, ambulances, police cars, tow trucks, maintenance and construction vehicles.

If possible, the oncoming driver should change to a lane away from the stopped vehicle and proceed with caution.

Scott’s Law is discussed on the Illinois State Police page titled “Scott’s Law” (pdf) subtitled “The Move Over Law.”

An excerpt from this Scott’s Law page:

As of January 1, 2017, the Move Over Law now applies to all vehicles that display flashing emergency lights, including commercial trucks and cars; the law is no longer limited to authorized emergency vehicles — i.e. police cruisers, ambulances, and fire trucks.

Another excerpt, from the Illinois State Police news release of March 25, 2019 titled “WITH SURGE OF CRASHES INVOLVING ISP TROOPERS, GOV. PRITZKER AND ILLINOIS STATE POLICE URGE MOTORISTS TO FOLLOW “MOVE OVER” LAW“:

The Move Over Law requires motorists to approach with caution and yield to emergency vehicles, including highway maintenance vehicles displaying oscillating, rotating or flashing lights. Drivers must change lanes if they can do so safely or reduce speed and proceed with caution if unable to change lanes.

 Though not an exhaustive list, this would include police, fire, emergency medical system, construction and towing vehicles. As of January 1, 2017, the law was also updated to include the general public when they are roadside with their emergency four-way flashers activated.

Violators of the Move Over Law are mandated to appear in court. Additionally, they can be fined not less than $100 or more than $10,000 and have their driver’s license suspended for up to two years if the violation involves injury to another.

The law was named after Chicago Fire Department Lieutenant Scott Gillen. In 2000, he was fatally struck by a drunk driver as he was assisting at an accident scene on the Dan Ryan Expressway.

Of note, Scott’s Law does not currently specify to what speed the driver should decelerate to. As well, it does not specify how much room to leave between the driver’s vehicle and that of the stopped emergency vehicle, tow truck, maintenance vehicle, or other applicable vehicle.

Additional details regarding this Illinois traffic safety regulation can be seen in the sources mentioned above.