Recently, I was hired to represent several clients who were charged with Failure to Yield to an Emergency Vehicle. During the course of representing these clients, I realized that many Illinois motorists do not fully understand the law when it comes to passing a stationary emergency vehicle that is stopped on the side of the road. I want to take this opportunity to discuss this law and what it involves. If you do not understand the law, and what it requires when you are passing an emergency vehicle that is stopped on the side of the road, you could find yourself with a very serious traffic ticket that could cause you to lose your license and cost you a lot of money.
What Is The Law and Why is it So Serious?
The Failure to Yield to an Emergency Vehicle statute was enacted by the Illinois Legislature after the September 2000 death of Lieutenant Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department after an intoxicated motorist sped through an accident scene and pinned him against a fire truck. In response, the Illinois Legislature passed “Scott’s Law” to protect police and fire officials who are performing their responsibilities on the side of the road. Tickets involving the Failure to Yield to an Emergency Vehicle are commonly referred to as “Scott’s Law” by police, judges, and lawyers.
In 2019, 22 Illinois State Troopers have been struck by motorists on the side of the road. Two Troopers have been killed.
What Does Scott’s Law Require?
Scott’s Law requires that you do three (3) things when you are approaching an emergency vehicle that is stopped on the side of the road. Failure to do all three (3) things could lead to you being ticketed for violating Scott’s Law. The three (3) things that you must do when your vehicle is approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle are that you must:
1. Proceed with due caution
2. Change lanes if possible
3. Reduce your speed
If you are driving down the street and a police officer is stopped on the side of the road issuing a traffic ticket to another driver, or rendering assistance to a motorist, it is not enough that you slow down when approaching the police car. In addition to slowing down, you must move over to the next lane whenever possible and proceed with due caution. If all you do is slow down, you may be issued a ticket for violating Scott’s Law. If all you do is move over to the next lane without slowing down, you may be issued a ticket for violating Scott’s Law. I signed up a case last week in which the client was issued a ticket for violating Scott’s Law after he moved his vehicle over to the next lane when he was approaching a police officer who was issuing a ticket but did not slow down as he was passing the emergency vehicle. The client admitted to actually speeding up because there were vehicles behind him who were driving fast. The police officer was finishing issuing the initial traffic ticket and pulled over my client and gave him a ticket for violating Scott’s Law. As I was talking to the client about his case, I realized that the client did not know that he was violating Scott’s Law by not slowing down when he passed up the emergency vehicle.
What Are the Penalties for Violating Scott’s Law?
If you receive a ticket for violating Scott’s Law, you will be given a Court date and you may receive a fine up to $10,000. However, if you were Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs (DUI), you may be facing additional penalties. Those additional penalties may include:
-90 days to a one year suspension of your license if property damage was involved.
-180 days to 2 years in jail if another person is injured.
-2 years in prison of someone is killed.
2019 Changes to Scott’s Law
In the last few days, the Illinois Legislature made several changes to Scott’s Law which increases the penalties for violating the law. The proposed changes have been sent to the Illinois Governor who has indicated that he will be signing the bill into law. The new bill will make the following changes to Scott’s Law:
-The minimum fine for a first violation of Scott’s Law will be $500.
-The minimum fine for a second or subsequent violation of Scott’s Law will be $1,000. The maximum fine for a violation of Scott’s Law will remain at $10,000.
-If death or physical harm results from the violation of Scott’s Law, you could be charged with a Class 2 felony. A Class 2 felony carries a potential jail sentence of between 3 to 7 years
James Dimeas is a nationally-recognized, award-winning, criminal defense lawyer, with over-27 years of experience handling traffic offenses and Scott’s Law violations throughout Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, and Lake County. James Dimeas is rated “Superb” by AVVO, the highest rating possible for any traffic violation attorney in the United States. The American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys named James Dimeas a “10 Best Attorney for Client Satisfaction.” Attorney and Practice Magazine gave James Dimeas its “Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorney Award for Illinois.” The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys gave James Dimeas its “Top 10 Attorney Award for the State of Illinois. James Dimeas was named a “Best DUI Attorney. Expertise named James Dimeas a “Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Chicago.” The National Trial Lawyers named James Dimeas a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer.” The American Institute of Legal Advocates named James Dimeas a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer in the State of Illinois For the year 2018 and 2019.
If you are charged with violating Scott’s Law, or have been issued any traffic tickets and moving violations, you can always contact James Dimeas for a free and confidential consultation. You can always speak to James Dimeas personally by calling him at 847-807-7405.