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Driving You Crazy: What are the rules when a first responder wants to pass me when I'm in the express lane?

Can I legally cross the double white lines?
I-25 Express Lane gap
Posted at 9:50 AM, Jan 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-17 11:50:40-05

Bill from Aurora writes, “What’s driving you crazy? I was traveling south of Castle Rock on I-25 in the "toll lane" when a CSP car with lights on was traveling to an incident. I am presuming that the emergency vehicle rule to pull to the right supersedes the toll lane rule for crossing the double white line - correct?  If so, is it then legal to cross back to toll lane, over the double white line after said vehicle passes?”

I took your question Bill, to both the Colorado State Patrol and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. Trooper Gary Cutler with the CSP tells me you are correct, you are required to move out of the way, for not just a trooper with lights on, but for any emergency responder, even if you are in the express lane and even if you have to cross the two white lines to do it.

Gary adds that troopers would let you get back into the express lane even if that means you would again be going across the double white lines as long as the lane is clear of any other emergency vehicles and that you can make that merge safely. “He would not be cited for doing that, but he would need to do it as soon as practical, not drive on for several miles and then cross back into the express lane,” Cutler said.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office tells me much of the same thing, saying you are correct that moving to the right and crossing the double white lines to get out of the way of any emergency vehicle with its equipment activated does supersede the law about not crossing the double white line. However, they tell me, when wanting to get back into the express lane the same ‘emergency’ situation does not exist, so the ‘do not cross the double white lines’ law again applies and that movement would technically not be permitted.

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“That said,” DCSO Deputy Cocha Heyden tells me, “the spirit of the law would be to yield to the emergency vehicle and then return to the position you were at prior to being required to move. As such, it is not the practice of DCSO to contact anyone that is immediately returning to their position in the express lane after an emergency vehicle passes.”

The only entity that could be slightly upset about this situation would be CDOT and Express Toll that monitors the tolling of the express lane because if you exit the toll lane before the tolling equipment and re-entered after, you will not pay. I’m pretty confident though that they wouldn’t be bent out of shape about it.

Driving You Crazy: What are the rules when a first responder wants to pass me when I'm in the express lane?

Denver7 traffic anchor Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 25 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, Spotify or Podbean.