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(Jefferson City) (AP) – Traffic offenses committed near emergencies on Missouri highways could lead to new penalties for motorists.

Violations for speeding or passing within an emergency zone when responders are present would carry a $250 fine, on top of any existing penalties.

The new law creates the offense of endangerment of an emergency responder. It would include passing within an emergency zone, speeding by at least 15 mph and using a lane not marked for motorists. Fines will range from up to $1,000 if no one is hurt to $10,000 if a responder is killed.

The highway legislation is among several new Missouri laws taking effect Wednesday.

Supporters say it is intended to protect law officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel.

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