Stopped safety vehicle requires cars to change lanes

Published 7:17 pm Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dear Lawyer Mark: I was driving down the highway some time ago, and saw some guy pulled over by the State Patrol.

Now, that’s not all surprising around here, but what did surprise me was that nobody got over into the left lane when they were passing the two cars on the shoulder.

I was always taught that you should get over to give the police more room.

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Well now, my wife and I had an argument (that’s not all surprising these days, either) over whether there is actually a law that says you must get over.

I think there is, but she says there isn’t and that people just do it to be nice. We have a bet on this one — if I win, there will be no complaining about me watching basketball for the next month; if she wins, I have to watch a ballet with her. Please, oh please, Lawyer Mark, find a law on this one. — BASKETBALL FAN

Dear Fan: Grab your favorite snack food and the remote, and enjoy your favorite team. RC 4511.213 (A) provides that when approaching a stationary public safety vehicle that has its lights flashing, a driver must get into the lane that is not next to where the vehicle is parked. If someone is pulled over in the median instead of the shoulder, you should therefore get into the right lane.

This law only applies when there are two or more lanes of traffic going the same direction, and only when the driver can safely change lanes.

Weather conditions and other traffic are to be considered when determining whether the driver can switch lanes. A violation of this section could result in a minor misdemeanor the first time (a fine), and increasing penalties if the person has been convicted of any traffic offense within one year of the violation.

The fines for a violation of this section are also doubled even for the first violation.

Dear Lawyer Mark:

I have a question for you. I want to sue somebody, but it’s not for enough money to go hire a lawyer. My son is pretty smart, and said that if I give him a power of attorney, he can go to court and sue for me. Can he do that? — PROUD MAMA

Dear Proud: A power of attorney does not allow someone to represent you in court.

Only two groups of people in Ohio can argue before courts: Attorneys admitted to the bar, and the parties themselves.

A power of attorney allows an individual to act on the grantor’s behalf, as an “attorney in fact.” It is a civil provision, and cannot be used to get around the statutory and regulatory conditions on attorney at law.

Although the power of attorney has been around for hundreds of years, it has never in this state been allowed to get around the requirements of a legal background.

In fact, as early as 1402, attorneys at law were considered completely separate from attorneys in fact in England (where we get many of our laws).

A person who is not admitted to the bar in Ohio holds himself out as an attorney and practices law is engaging in the unauthorized practice of law in violation of RC 4705.01.

A violation of this section is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to six (6) months in jail and a fine.

It’s The Law is written by attorney Mark K. McCown in response to legal questions received by him. If you have a question, please forward it to Mark K. McCown, 311 Park Avenue, Ironton, Ohio 45638, or e-mail it to him a The right to condense and/or edit all questions is reserved.