Can You Get a Ticket for Driving Slow in the Left Lane, or Passing Lane?

In most states in the United States, traffic laws stipulate that the left lane on a multi-lane road should primarily be used for passing other vehicles. This legislation is not merely a guideline but a legal requirement that is enforceable by law.

The main objective of this regulation is to keep traffic flowing smoothly and to reduce the risk of accidents that could occur due to unnecessary lane changes. Drivers who fail to adhere to rules related to driving in the left lane – that is, those who remain in the left lane without passing other vehicles – may find themselves facing a ticket or other penalties.

State by State Restrictions on Driving in the Left Lane

Different states have different laws and restrictions regarding driving in the left lane. Here is a comprehensive list of the laws in every state in the United States:

Alabama

Fines can reach up to $200 for driving in the left lane in Alabama. According to Alabama Code § 32-5A-80, drivers must keep to the right unless passing another vehicle or in preparation for a left turn.

Alaska

In Alaska, the law requires drivers to keep right if they are going slower than the normal speed of traffic. As per Alaska Statute § 28.35.185, drivers can be fined up to $500 for driving in the left lane when it impedes the flow of other traffic. Exceptions are made for passing, preparing for a left turn, or when necessary for safety.

Arizona

In Arizona, drivers must keep right on multi-lane roadways, as stated in Arizona Revised Statutes § 28-721. The law permits driving in the left lane for overtaking and passing another vehicle or preparing for a left turn at an intersection, private road, or driveway. Violation of this law incurs a fine of $50.

Arkansas

Arkansas has a “Keep Right” law that requires drivers to stay in the right lane when not passing. The law, specified in Arkansas Code § 27-51-301, states that vehicles moving slower than the normal speed of traffic should be driven in the right-hand lane or as close as possible to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. Exceptions include overtaking and passing another vehicle in the same direction, preparing for a left turn, or entering a private road or driveway. Violation fines can be up to $195.

California

The California Vehicle Code Section 21654 states that drivers moving slower than the normal speed of traffic should drive in the right-hand lane. Violations can lead to a fine of up to $238 and one point assessed to the driver’s DMV driving record.

Colorado

In Colorado, drivers should stay in the right-hand lane if they are moving slower than the normal speed of traffic, as per Colorado Revised Statutes § 42-4-1001. Exceptions include passing, preparing for a left turn, or when necessary for safety. Violations may result in a fine of $41.20.

Connecticut

According to Connecticut General Statute § 14-230, drivers in Connecticut must keep to the right-hand side of the road unless overtaking, passing another vehicle, or preparing for a left turn at an intersection, private road, or driveway. Driving in the left lane continuously may result in a variable fine of up to $90, and one point added to your driver’s license.

Delaware

According to Delaware Code Title 21 § 4114, slower drivers in Delaware must keep to the right side of the road. Exceptions include overtaking and passing another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, entering a private road or driveway, or complying with other regulations. Violations for driving in the left lane may result in a fine of $25 – $75 for first-time offenders, and $57.50 – $95 for second-time and subsequent offenders.

District of Columbia

In the District of Columbia, drivers are required to keep right if they are moving slower than the normal speed of traffic. This is stated in the DC Municipal Regulations Title 18 § 2201.3. Exceptions are made for passing, preparing for a left turn, or when necessary for safety. Violation of this rule regarding driving in the left lane can result in a fine of $100.

Florida

In Florida, staying in the left lane is a moving violation that can result in a $75+ fine and 3 points on a driver’s license as per Florida Statutes Title XXIII § 316.081. Exceptions include passing, overtaking, obstructions, hazards, turning left, and one-way streets.

Georgia

Based on Georgia Code § 40-6-184, slow drivers should stick to the right lane. A violation can lead to a fine of up to $1,000. Exceptions include traffic congestion, inclement weather, obstructions, hazards, traffic control devices, exiting, turning left, paying a toll, emergency vehicles, highway maintenance, and construction operations.

Hawaii

According to Hawaii Revised Statutes § 291C-41, drivers in Hawaii are required to keep to the right half of the roadway, except when overtaking or passing another vehicle in the same direction, or when an obstruction forces them to drive on the left side. Although Hawaii does not explicitly state a penalty for driving in the left lane, it is discouraged.

Idaho

In Idaho, drivers must use the right half of the roadway, as stated in Idaho Statutes Title 49. Motor Vehicles § 49-630. Exceptions include overtaking and passing another vehicle in the same direction, making a left turn, or when the right half of the roadway is closed for repairs. A violation can lead to a fine of $90.

Illinois

Illinois law, under 625 ILCS 5/11-701, requires drivers to keep to the right on all roadways, except when passing another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or when the right side is closed off for repairs. Violating this rule may result in a fine of $120.

Indiana

As per Indiana Code § 9-21-8-2, drivers in Indiana must drive on the right half of the roadway unless they are overtaking and passing another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or the right side is closed off for construction or other reasons. Driving in the left lane when not passing or turning may result in a fine of up to $500 and points on your license.

Iowa

In Iowa, as per Iowa Code § 321.297, drivers must keep to the right half of the roadway unless they are overtaking and passing another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or when the right side is obstructed or closed off for construction. Violating this regulation can result in fines which vary depending on local ordinances.

Kansas

According to Kansas Statutes § 8-1522, drivers are required to use the right half of the roadway, except when overtaking, making a left turn, or when the right half is closed for road construction or repair. Violating this rule may result in a fine of $60.

Kentucky

In Kentucky, drivers are required by Kentucky Revised Statutes § 189.300 to drive on the right side of the road, except when passing another vehicle in the same direction or when the right side is closed for construction or repair. Violating this rule may result in a fine of $20 – $100.

Louisiana

Louisiana Revised Statutes § 32:71 requires drivers to drive on the right side of the road, except when overtaking another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or when the right side is closed due to construction or other circumstances. Violators of this law can be fined up to $100, imprisoned for up to 30 days, or both.

Maine

As per the Maine Revised Statutes Title 29-A §2052, drivers in Maine must stay on the right side of the road, except when passing, making a left turn, or when the right half of the road is closed due to construction or other reasons. Violating this rule may result in a fine of at least $275.

Maryland

In Maryland, drivers are guided by Maryland Transportation Code § 21-301 to drive on the right half of the road, except when overtaking another vehicle, making a left turn, or when the right half of the road is closed off for construction or other reasons. Violators driving in the left lane are subject to a fine of $75 for a first offense; $150 for a second offense; and $250 for a third or subsequent offense.

Massachusetts

According to General Laws Chapter 89 § 4B, Massachusetts law requires drivers to use the lane closest to the right on multi-lane roadways, except when passing or preparing for a left turn. Violating this rule may result in a fine of $100.

Michigan

Under the Michigan Vehicle Code § 257.634, drivers in Michigan should use the right half of the roadway, except when overtaking or passing another vehicle in the same direction or when the right half is closed due to construction or other conditions. Violations can lead to a fine and two points added to a driver’s record.

Minnesota

According to Minnesota Statutes § 169.18, Minnesota drivers must use the right half of the road, except when passing, preparing for a left turn, or when the right side is closed due to construction or other circumstances. Violations can lead to a $50 fine plus $75 in court costs.

Mississippi

As per the Mississippi Code § 63-3-601, drivers in Mississippi must drive on the right side of the road, except when overtaking, preparing for a left turn, or when the right side is closed due to construction or other reasons. Violators will be subject to a fine of $5 to $50.

Missouri

According to Missouri Revised Statutes § 304.015, drivers in Missouri must drive on the right side of the road, except when overtaking another vehicle or when the right side is closed due to construction or other valid reasons. Violators may incur a fine of $80.50 for improper passing.

Montana

Under the Montana Code Annotated § 61-8-321, drivers in Montana are required to drive on the right half of the roadway, except when overtaking or passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, or when the right half of the roadway is closed due to construction or other circumstances. While there is no specific penalty for remaining in the left lane, it could be construed as obstructing the flow of traffic, and result in fines determined by the court.

Nebraska

According to the Nebraska Revised Statute § 60-6,131, motorists in Nebraska are required to drive on the right half of the road except when passing another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or when the right part is closed due to construction or other reasons. While there is no defined penalty for remaining in the left lane, it may be interpreted as a disruption to the flow of traffic, which could invoke penalties assessed by the court.

Nevada

In accordance with Nevada Revised Statutes § 484B.627, drivers in Nevada are obligated to drive on the right half of the roadway, except when overtaking another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or when the right part is obstructed for construction or other reasons. Drivers who violate this law may be fined $50 for the first offense, $100 for the second offense, and $150 for the third offense.

New Hampshire

As per the New Hampshire Revised Statutes § 265:16, drivers in New Hampshire are required to keep to the right half of the road, except when overtaking another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or when the right half of the road is closed due to construction or other circumstances. Violators face fines of $50 or more, plus points on their license.

New Jersey

According to the New Jersey Statutes § 39:4-82, drivers in New Jersey are mandated to keep to the right, except when overtaking another vehicle or when preparing for a left turn. The right lane should also be used when the road ahead is clear. Violating this law can result in a fine of $86.00 – $141.00 and 2 points on your driving record.

New Mexico

As per the New Mexico Statutes § 66-7-308, drivers in New Mexico are required to drive on the right side of the road, except when passing another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or when the right side is closed due to construction or other reasons. While there is no explicit penalty for remaining in the left lane, it may be seen as obstructing the natural flow of traffic, potentially leading to fines as determined by the court.

New York

As per the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1120, drivers in New York are expected to drive on the right half of the roadway, except when overtaking another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or when the right half is obstructed due to construction or other reasons. A fine of up to $75 may be imposed on individuals who fail to overtake or pass a vehicle or drive at a speed five miles or more below the designated speed limit.

North Carolina

In accordance with the North Carolina General Statutes § 20-146, drivers in North Carolina are required to drive on the right half of the roadway, except when overtaking another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or when the right half is closed due to construction or other circumstances. Violators face fines of $25, or up to $100 if House Bill 784 passes.

North Dakota

According to the North Dakota Century Code § 39-10-08, drivers in North Dakota must operate their vehicles on the right half of the roadway, except when overtaking or passing another vehicle, when making a left turn, or when the right lane is closed due to construction or other valid reasons. Violators face fines of $20 or more, plus points on their license.

Ohio

As per the Ohio Revised Code § 4511.25, drivers in Ohio must operate their vehicles on the right half of the roadway, except when overtaking another vehicle, when preparing for a left turn, or when the right lane is closed due to construction or other valid reasons. A violation is a misdemeanor and carries two points on the driver’s traffic record.

Oklahoma

According to the Oklahoma Statutes §47-11-301, drivers in Oklahoma are required to drive on the right half of the roadway, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle, when preparing for a left turn, or when the right side of the road is closed due to construction or other valid reasons. If violated, drivers may receive a $235 ticket.

Oregon

As per the Oregon Revised Statutes § 811.325, drivers in Oregon are required to keep right except when passing another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or when the right lane is closed due to construction or other reasons. In Oregon, the penalty for driving in the passing lane is $270.

Pennsylvania

According to the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes § 3313, drivers in Pennsylvania are required to stay on the right side of the road except when passing another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or when the right side of the road is closed due to construction or other valid reasons. Drivers found in violation of this law can be fined up to $100.

Rhode Island

According to the Rhode Island General Laws § 31-15-2, drivers in Rhode Island are required to stay on the right side of the road except when overtaking another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or when the right side of the road is closed due to construction or other valid reasons. Drivers found driving in the left lane in violation of this law can be fined up to $85.

South Carolina

According to the South Carolina Code § 56-5-1810, drivers in South Carolina are required to drive on the right half of the roadway, except when overtaking another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or when the right side is closed due to construction or other valid reasons. Drivers found driving in the left lane in violation of this law can be fined up to $100.

South Dakota

As per the South Dakota Codified Laws § 32-26-1, drivers in South Dakota are required to drive on the right half of the roadway, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or when the right side is obstructed due to construction or other valid reasons. A violation of this law is a Class 2 misdemeanor that can result in up to 30 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.

Tennessee

As per the Tennessee Code § 55-8-204, drivers in Tennessee are required to drive on the right half of the roadway, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or when the right side is closed due to construction or other valid reasons. Violating Tennessee’s “Slow Poke Law” is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a $50 fine.

Texas

As noted below, Texas drivers who violate the “left lane for passing only” rule can face a fine of up to $200 for driving in the left lane, as per Texas Transportation Code § 545.051.

Utah

Under the Utah Code § 41-6a-704, motorists in Utah should keep to the right side of the road except when passing another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or when the right side of the road is closed due to construction or other valid reasons. Drivers found in violation of this law can be fined up to $130.

Vermont

According to the Vermont Statutes Title 23 § 1031, drivers in Vermont are required to drive on the right half of the roadway, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle, when preparing for a left turn, or when the right side of the road is closed due to construction or other valid reasons. Violators must pay a civil penalty of at least $200.

Virginia

As per the Virginia Code § 46.2-802, drivers in Virginia are required to drive on the right half of the road except when overtaking and passing another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or when the right side of the road is closed due to construction or other valid reasons. Continuously driving in the left lane is punishable by a fine of $100.

Washington

As per the Revised Code of Washington § 46.61.100, drivers in Washington are required to stay on the right side of the road except when passing another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or when an obstruction makes it necessary to drive in the left-hand lane. Motorists who disregard the left lane designated for passing may face a penalty of $136.

West Virginia

According to the West Virginia Code §17C-7-1, drivers in West Virginia are required to stay on the right side of the road except when overtaking and passing another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or when an obstruction makes it necessary to drive in the left-hand lane. Violators of this section are guilty of a misdemeanor. Upon first conviction, a fine of up to $100 applies. A second conviction within a year incurs a fine of up to $200. Third or subsequent convictions result in fines of up to $500.

Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin Statutes § 346.05, drivers are required to drive on the right half of the roadway except when overtaking and passing another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or when an obstruction makes it necessary to drive in the left-hand lane. Violating Wisconsin’s “left lane law” can result in a citation, which carries a fine of $213.10 and adds four points to the driver’s license.

Wyoming

According to the Wyoming Statutes § 31-5-209, drivers in Wyoming are required to drive on the right half of the roadway except when overtaking and passing another vehicle, when preparing for a left turn, or when the right side of the road is closed due to construction or other valid reasons. Violating this law is a class C misdemeanor, and a conviction can result in a fine of up to $750 and/or up to 6 months in jail.

Traffic camera watching drivers who are driving in the left lane

Example of the Left Lane Driving Laws in Texas

Let’s look more closely at the state of Texas, a state known for its vast highways and busy traffic, to get a deeper understanding of the intricacies and nuances of its left lane laws. It’s worth noting that Texas, like many other states, follows the “left lane for passing only” rule, but the enforcement and interpretation of this rule can vary depending on local factors, such as traffic conditions, road design, and local law enforcement policies.

Penalties for Driving in the Passing Lane in Texas

In Texas, penalties for lingering in the left lane can be quite steep. The Texas Transportation Code stipulates that drivers traveling slower than the “normal speed of traffic” should stick to the right lane as much as possible. If drivers violate this regulation, they can face fines.

Impeding the flow of traffic is punishable by a fine of up to $200 in Texas. Furthermore, this violation can also end up on the driver’s record, which could potentially impact their insurance rates. It’s essential for drivers to remember that the left lane is primarily for passing, not for cruising. Following this rule not only helps maintain smooth traffic flow but also keeps everyone on the road safer.

When Can You Drive in the Left Lane in Texas?

There are exceptions to the rule where driving in the left lane is permitted in Texas, as outlined in the Texas Transportation Code § 545.051. Drivers should drive on the right side of the roadway, unless:

  1. the driver is passing another vehicle;
  2. an obstruction necessitates moving the vehicle left of the center of the roadway and the operator yields the right of way to a vehicle that:
    1. is moving in the proper direction on the unobstructed portion of the roadway; and
    2. is an immediate hazard;
  3. the operator is on a roadway divided into three marked lanes for traffic; or
  4. the operator is on a roadway restricted to one-way traffic.

These exceptions allow flexibility for drivers, though the general rule of staying right except to pass remains the standard.

When Can You Drive Slow in the Left Lane in Texas?

The statute also covers scenarios in which a driver is traveling at a slower pace compared to other vehicles on the road. In such instances, the law specifies that the driver should occupy the right-hand lane or position their vehicle as near as possible to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. However, there are exceptions to this rule when:

  1. passing another vehicle; or
  2. preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

Summary of Laws Related to Driving in the Left Lane

In conclusion, laws regarding driving in the left lane, often referred to as the “left lane laws,” vary across different states in the U.S., much like state negligence laws. However, a common theme is the emphasis on using the left lane primarily for passing, not for continuous driving.

Despite these variations, the universal principle in the United States remains: the left lane is primarily for passing, and drivers should stay to the right as much as possible to maintain smooth traffic flow and ensure safety.

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