3 Denver police cruisers hit by drivers who failed to move over

The Denver Police Department says none of its officers suffered serious injuries, but the...
The Denver Police Department says none of its officers suffered serious injuries, but the situation easily could have gone a different way.(Denver Police Department)
Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 4:46 AM MDT
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DENVER (KKTV) - Moving over for emergency vehicles isn’t just the law in Colorado -- it can be the difference between an officer going home after work and an officer facing injury or worse, as two separate incidents April 16 in Denver show.

The Denver Police Department says three of its patrol vehicles were hit that day by drivers who failed to follow the move-over law.

Two of those three drivers were involved in the same incident in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

“Denver police officers were investigating a traffic crash in the area of I-25 and I-70 with the overhead emergency lights on their patrol vehicles activated,” the police department said in a social media post Tuesday night. “During this time, a motorist sideswiped an unoccupied patrol car and then drove away. A second motorist, who is suspected of driving under the influence, crashed into an occupied patrol car at the same scene.”

Later Sunday, a similar situation at another crash site.

“Officers were in the area of southbound I-25 and West Alameda Avenue investigating a crash, when an officer inside a parked patrol car with overhead lights activated assisting with traffic control was struck by a motorist, disabling the vehicle ... that motorist also fled the scene,” police said.

In both cases, the officer sustained minor injuries. In both cases, the outcome easily could have been much worse. There have been multiple cases over the years where law enforcement officers have been killed because a driver failed to move over for a stopped emergency vehicle.

Last month, Gov. Jared Polis expanded the Colorado move-over law to include all motorists, not just emergency vehicles. The law had significant bipartisan support in the Colorado legislature.

Under this law, drivers must move over a lane whenever a citizen is pulled over and is displaying hazard lights, as well as for authorized first responder vehicles, tow trucks, utility service vehicles, and vehicles to which chains are being applied. If the driver cannot move over a lane, then they must slow down.

Colorado law, if an emergency vehicle or tow truck is pulled to the side of the road with its lights on, passing drivers are required to either move over one lane or greatly reduce speed.

If a driver does not move over or slow down and it results in a fatal crash, the driver responsible could face felony charges. If convicted, they could spend more than a year in prison.