RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – After the death of her husband in December, Leah Quick says the state needs to increase penalties for drivers who violate the Move Over Law.
“This was actually a senseless incident, and it should not have happened,” she said.
Lumberton Police Officer Jason Quick died when he was hit by a car while investigating a crash on Interstate-95.
“I wanted to do something that would honor my husband,” said Leah Quick.
The state’s Move Over Law requires drivers to slow down and, if safely possible, to move at least one lane of traffic away from an emergency response vehicle.
Quick contacted Sen. Danny Britt (R-Columbus/Robeson), who filed a bill last week to increase penalties for violating the law, calling it the Officer Jason Quick Act.
“I understand completely that not all cases are going to be prosecuted to the fullest extent, but I do know that we do have a bar. And, if we set that bar higher, then I feel like it’ll make a little bit of a difference,” said Britt.
Under current law, a driver who causes more than $500 in damage to an emergency vehicle or injures an emergency responder is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.
Britt’s bill would change that to a Class I felony, which carries a potential sentence of three to 12 months in prison.
If a driver seriously injures or kills an emergency responder, the bill would make that a Class F felony (as opposed to Class I under current law), carrying a potential punishment of 10 to 41 months in prison.
Britt said one of his goals in filing the bill is to bring greater awareness to this issue even if the law does not change.
“Oftentimes whenever a bill is filed, it’s not the bill passing that accomplishes the goal. Sometimes, by filing that bill alone you can bring awareness to an issue,” he said.
The Move Over Law took effect in 2002.
According to the State Highway Patrol, police across the state charged 1,389 drivers with violating it last year.
That was down from 1,450 drivers in 2017 and 1,438 in 2016.