The Cop Column
September, 2006
Sgt. Rick Hord
Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office

Five Laws That Shouldn’t be Ignored

            Not all laws are created equal. Virtually everybody supports and obeys the laws against theft, murder, and child abuse.  

            Some laws are controversial and have been subject of public debate for many years. 

            More than just a few laws are archaic, obscure, or arcane, and seldom or never enforced. One from 1905, for example, sets the pay for any Sheriff or Deputy Sheriff at two dollars per day for providing security at automobile race meets.

            Other laws are well-known but not always obeyed. Most drivers have exceeded the speed limit or committed a “rolling stop” due to inattentiveness, or maybe because they believed the law was not important.

            On the other hand, quite a few laws deserve to be better known, obeyed, and enforced. They probably would be, except most people don’t know they exist. Let’s try to correct that. Here’s my personal top-5 list of important, but ignored laws:

            5- The Bicycle Helmet Law. Up to the age of 16, anybody riding on a bicycle must wear a safety helmet. The law also applies to kids riding in a trailer pulled by a bicycle. It appears the publicity from several years ago may have worn off.

            4- Driver License Requirements. Are you visiting Florida ? If so, your home state Driver License will do. If you are employed in Florida or engage in any trade, profession, or occupation in Florida , or enter a child in a Florida public school, you are driving illegally unless you obtain a Florida Driver License within 30 days. Active duty military personnel may enter kids in school without triggering the DL requirement, but getting a civilian job (even an on-base one) does mandate a Florida License.

            3- Bicycles are Vehicles. When a bike is on a public road, it must follow the same rules as if it were a car. That means stopping at stop signs and red lights, driving on the right side of the road, and obeying speed limits and other laws. Yes, the DUI law does apply to bicyclists.

2- Stop When Traffic Obstructed. The law says you must not enter an intersection unless it’s clear to go all the way through. That means stopping for a green light when traffic is backed up. The obvious intent of this law is to prevent gridlock.

And my Number One most ignored law:

1-The “Move Over Law.” This is another one that entered with fanfare just four years ago, although nobody seems to know about it now. When an emergency vehicle or a wrecker is parked by the side of the road with its emergency lights flashing, traffic in that direction must move over, out of the lane closest to the stopped patrol car, fire truck, ambulance, or wrecker. On a two lane road, traffic must slow way down… to 20 MPH less than the posted limit. This is an important law: Florida averages one emergency worker per day injured when struck by traffic while performing his or her job.