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Friday, June 20, 2008

Area police ticketing to enforce 'move-over' law

Officers will pull over drivers who do not change lanes or lower their speed when they pass them doing their job on the streets.

When Nirvana Lisman saw the red and blue flashing lights behind her, her heart sank. At first, she wasn't sure what she had done wrong.

She pulled over on the side of Northeast 163rd Street, and North Miami Beach Police Officer John Francioni gave her the news: She didn't change lanes or lower her speed when passing law enforcement activity in the street.

Do you know how dangerous that is?" he asked. "Didn't you see them there?"

Lisman got away with a warning -- and a brochure about the law, but about 60 others were not so lucky and received $106.50 tickets as part of a joint police department effort June 12 to educate people about a Florida traffic law known as move over.

"The law is in place because when we're out there working, helping someone or giving ticket, we aren't necessarily paying attention to oncoming traffic," said North Miami Beach Police officer Felipe Hernandez.

About 12 North Miami Beach, North Miami, Sunny Isles Beach and Aventura police officers set up shop to warn drivers and write tickets.

One officer would make an initial stop -- for traffic violations -- and then another officer would be close by to nab those who didn't follow the move-over law.

Hernandez said officers in the area will continue to enforce the law whenever they see a violation.

"We are hoping that, just like everything else, people will make the mistake once and never do it again," he said.

Florida's law, enacted in 2002, was a way to protect police officers or other emergency vehicles, including tow trucks and fire rescue vehicles, on the side of the road. Other states also have passed similar laws.

In 2007, the National Safety Commission, the National Sheriffs' Association, the National Association of Police Organization and the American Association of State Troopers joined together to launch the Move Over, America campaign to educate the public on the law.

According to, 151 officers were killed between 1997 and 2006.
Hernandez said the most important aspect of the effort is educating more people about the law.

"Next time I see flashing lights, I will move over immediately," Lisman said as a car whizzed by.

The whizzing car made her jump, and Lisman looked over at the officer and said, "I can see your point."

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Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32004-3359

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