An ambulance speeds through the street

I Failed to Yield to an Emergency Vehicle – Now What?

All New York motorists are required to yield for emergency vehicles. This law protects police officers, EMTs, tow truck drivers, firefighters, and others who save lives or perform maintenance, construction, or repairs. These professionals also exist to protect civilians — including motorists — so following these laws is essential.

It is a misconception that motorists only need to move over slightly to the right. In reality, motorists must move over to whichever side of the road is nearest and possesses the least risk.   

How do I identify an emergency vehicle?

According to New York law, red, white, blue, and amber lights indicate that the approaching vehicle is considered an “emergency vehicle.” Examples of emergency vehicles include:

  • Police cars
  • Ambulances
  • Fire trucks
  • Tow trucks
  • Garbage trucks
  • Civil emergency vehicle 
  • Any other vehicles with amber lights
  • Any other governmental authority vehicle 

The emergency vehicles must have their flashing lights on and head in the same direction as you.

Which law states this requirement? 

New York traffic laws state that: 

“Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle … the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right of way … and shall stop and remain in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed unless otherwise directed by a police officer.”

What penalties are in place for failing to yield to an emergency vehicle? 

A split-second decision to continue driving while an emergency vehicle is approaching can cause you long-term problems, including, but not limited to:


According to New York State’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), a first-time offense of this law can cost motorists $275. Repeat offenses, however, can cost up to $450 or even $750 in fines.


Violation of this law will land you three points on your driver’s license.


Motorists can expect an $88 surcharge if in a city or a $93 surcharge if in a village or town. 

DRA Fees

Motorists can also expect a Driver Responsibility Assessment or (DRA) fee. The DRA fee is $300, plus an additional $75 for every point over six. 

Increase in Auto Insurance Premiums

Failure to yield to emergency vehicles usually results in a 9-15% increase in auto insurance premiums. Insurance companies also have independent point systems that can result in different consequences. 

Suspension of License

A motorist who fails to yield to emergency vehicles can have their license suspended upon reaching 11 points. 

I failed to yield to an emergency vehicle — what do I do now?

Maybe you didn’t know the importance of this law, or you were unaware that an emergency vehicle was passing by. Perhaps you didn’t even know that this law existed. Whatever the case may be, we understand that everyone makes mistakes. Our office is here to serve you! 

The New York Traffic Ticket Lawyers are a professional, experienced, and dedicated team of litigators located in downtown Syracuse. We serve clients throughout central New York, including:

We are also happy to appear in court for out-of-state clients who have received traffic tickets while driving through New York.

The New York Traffic Ticket Lawyers take care of all of your traffic-related ticket concerns, so you don’t have to. Our area of practice handles a wide variety of traffic ticket cases, including, but not limited to:

  • Failure to yield to emergency vehicles
  • Speeding
  • Commercial driver’s license (CDL) 
  • Reckless driving
  • DWI and DUI
  • Cell phone use
  • Disobey a red light or traffic control device
  • Improper turn
  • Stop sign violation
  • Tailgating 
  • Move Over Law
  • Obstructing intersection
  • Leaving the scene of an accident

Do not hesitate to contact our law firm to set up a free consultation today.

One of the founding members and partners of New York Traffic Ticket Lawyers, Clifton C. Carden III, Esq. is highly experienced and knowledgeable in New York traffic law. Clifton treats each one of his cases with a no-nonsense, results-oriented approach, which has brought a cult-like following from his clients. He is also the firm’s in-house expert on New York DWI law. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Clifton by clicking here.