Q&A - Slow Down Move Over Ticket

Q&A ImageI was caught by surprise, and although I realize ignorance of a law is no defence, I wonder how I might have known about the Slow Down Move Over law. I had moved to Nova Scotia from BC in 2001, not returning until 2012.

When I returned to BC in 2012, I was given a BC drivers licence again, but no info about the slow down move over law which was enacted while I was away.

I fully understand the intent of this law and support it. What I don't know is how I was supposed to know that it existed.

slow down move over infographic

What Happened

I was heading North on Hwy 1 leaving Victoria at 88 km/h in a 90 km/h zone. I rounded a bend in the road and saw an unmarked police vehicle parked on the right edge of the road with it's blue and red emergency lights flashing.

I saw that I had sufficient space in the left lane to change into that lane, and did so, but I did not slow down. There was already traffic in that lane and I preferred not to get rear ended!

The officer pulled me over and wrote on the ticket for failing to slow down and move over.  He said to me you did move over but you also needed to slow down to 70.

I see on the ICBC website the offence for 47.02 reads "Fail to slow down or move over near stopped official vehicle", with a fine of $173.00 and 3 points.

I truly feel unfairly dealt with and am not sure what my defence might be or what outcome I could hope for. I am disputing the ticket. 

Any suggestions you might have are much appreciated.

Slow Down Move Over

Definition 47.01

In this Division, "official vehicle" means

(a) a motor vehicle operated by a peace officer, constable or member of the police branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the discharge of his or her duty,

(b) an ambulance as defined in the Emergency and Health Services Act,

(c) a motor vehicle operated by fire services personnel as defined in the Fire Services Act in the discharge of personnel duties,

(d) a tow car, and

(e) a motor vehicle operated by one of the following in the discharge of his or her duty:

(i) a member of the Conservation Officer Service as described in section 106 of the Environmental Management Act;

(ii) a person authorized to exercise the powers and perform the duties of a constable or peace officer for purposes set out in the Inspectors Authorization Regulation, B.C. Reg. 372/92;

(iii) a person authorized to exercise the powers conferred on, and perform the duties of, peace officers for the purposes of enforcing the Passenger Transportation Act and the Passenger Transportation Regulation;

(iv) a park ranger appointed under section 4 (2) of the Park Act;

(v) a person employed in the Ministry of Forests and Range who is appointed as a special provincial constable under section 9 of the Police Act. 

When an official vehicle is stopped

47.02 (1) Subject to subsection (2), if an official vehicle with illuminated flashing red or blue lamps or lights, or both, or flashing amber lamps or lights is stopped on or on the side of a highway, a person driving a motor vehicle on the highway in either direction must drive the motor vehicle at the following rate of speed when approaching or passing the official vehicle:

(a) 70 km/h if signs on the highway limit the rate of speed to 80 km/h or more;

(b) 40 km/h if signs on the highway limit the rate of speed to less than 80 km/h.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a driver who approaches or passes an official vehicle from the opposite direction on a highway that contains a laned roadway or is divided by a median.

(3) In addition to the requirements of subsection (1), a driver travelling in a lane adjacent to the stopped official vehicle or in the same lane in which the official vehicle is stopped must, if it is safe to do so, and unless otherwise directed by a peace officer, move his or her motor vehicle into another lane of the laned roadway, if any.


The slow down move over law was enacted in Nova Scotia (where this person was moving from) on May 1, 2010, likely with the same public fanfare in the news as there was here. It is possible that you missed it all, but you are not coming to a new situation here in BC either.

The police vehicles parked at the side of the road with emergency lights flashing are "official vehicles" by definition, and because the emergency lights were flashing 47.02 (1) (a) does apply and 47.02 (3) may apply.

In all cases you must slow down to either 70 or 40 km/h depending on the speed limit in effect at that place.

It also requires that you move over if it is safe to do so.

To successfully dispute a slow down move over charge, you will need to show one or more of the following:

  1. It was not an official vehicle that you passed
  2. You did slow down to the required speed
  3. It was not possible to slow down or move over
  4. It was too dangerous to slow down or move over

You do have the defence of necessity which follows from point #4 above. You will have significant difficulty making use of this defence because you must convince the JJP that you were in mortal peril and not slowing down was the only safe option to take.

Simply saying "I didn't think it was safe to slow down" isn't going to be nearly enough.

Penalty Points

Penalty points are listed in the Schedule to Division 28 MVAR. A conviction for either of the two offences set out in 47.02 will result in 3 penalty points being assessed.

Driving Prohibition

Driving prohibitions for points come from the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles. The thresholds are part of the Driver Improvement Program and these are explained in the Driver Improvement Program Policies and Guidelines.

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The licenses are handed out on the premise that you are aware and will comply with all the regulations, laws, by-laws and whims.

As far as the actual situation:

You have moved over - that's a fact, both you and the officer know it.

As far as the slow down part - main question is - Did you say to the officer that you did NOT slow down, or did you say what speed you WERE going?

If none of the above happened, then all that is truly known is that you noticed the situation, deemed that is safer to move over and after assessing the traffic behind you, you slowed down below the speed-limit, but still with sufficient care to not get rear-ended - it is a highway after-all.

The officer's signature/badge number - and the absence of your signature have little consequence, what matters is that the place, the time and your vehicle's and yours identification (name, dl#) are all proper.

You should dispute this ticket - as from your story it appears that the officer was just parked on the shoulder and their previous "victim" was already gone. The intent of the law is to protect the Police in their execution of duties on the road-side, not to provide the Police departments with another "gotcha" scenario.