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(a) Upon the approach of a public safety vehicle or coroner's vehicle, equipped with at least one flashing, rotating, or oscillating light visible under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of 500 feet to the front of the vehicle, and the driver is giving an audible signal by siren, exhaust whistle, or bell, no driver of any other vehicle shall fail to yield the right-of-way, immediately drive, if practical, to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to, the right edge or curb of the highway clear of any intersection, and stop and remain in that position until the public safety vehicle or coroner's vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer.
(b) This section does not relieve the driver of a public safety vehicle or coroner's vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons and property upon the highway.
(c) This section applies to a coroner's vehicle only when the vehicle is operated in accordance with Ohio R.C. 4513.171, or a substantially equivalent municipal ordinance. As used in this section, “coroner's vehicle” means a vehicle used by a coroner, deputy coroner or coroner's investigator that is equipped with a flashing, oscillating or rotating red or blue light and a siren, exhaust whistle or bell capable of giving an audible signal.
(d) Except as otherwise provided in this division or division (e), whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree on a first offense. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to one predicate motor vehicle or traffic offense, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of two or more predicate motor vehicle or traffic offenses, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree.
(e) (1) When the failure of a motor vehicle operator to yield the right-of-way to a public safety vehicle as required by division (a) of this section impedes the ability of the public safety vehicle to respond to an emergency, any emergency personnel in the public safety vehicle may report the license plate number and a general description of the vehicle and the operator of the vehicle to the law enforcement agency exercising jurisdiction over the area where the alleged violation occurred.
(2) A. Upon receipt of a report under division (e)(1) of this section, the law enforcement agency may conduct an investigation to attempt to determine or confirm the identity of the operator of the vehicle at the time of the alleged violation.
B. If the identity of the operator at the time of an alleged violation of division (a) of this section is established, the law enforcement agency has probable cause to issue either a written warning or a citation for that violation, and the agency shall issue a written warning or a citation to the operator.
C. If the identity of the operator of the vehicle at the time of the alleged violation cannot be established, the law enforcement agency may issue a written warning to the person who owned the vehicle at the time of the alleged violation. However, in the case of a leased or rented vehicle, the law enforcement agency shall issue the written warning to the person who leased or rented the vehicle at the time of the alleged violation.
(3) A. Whoever violates division (a) of this section based on a report filed under division (e)(1) of this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor and shall be fined one hundred fifty dollars ($150.00).
B. If a person who is issued a citation for a violation of division (a) of this section based on a report filed under division (e)(1) of this section does not enter a written plea of guilty and does not waive the person’s right to contest the citation but instead appears in person in the proper court to answer the charge, the trier of fact cannot find beyond a reasonable doubt that the person committed that violation unless the emergency personnel who filed the report appears in person in the court and testifies.
(4) As used in this division (e):
A. “License plate.” Includes any temporary license placard issued under Ohio R.C. 4503.182 or similar law of another jurisdiction.
B. “Public safety vehicle.” Does not include an unmarked public safety vehicle or a vehicle used by a public law enforcement officer or other person sworn to enforce the criminal and traffic laws of the state or a vehicle used by the motor carrier enforcement unit for the enforcement of orders and rules of the public utilities commission.