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Left-Lane Drivers Beware!

It is now illegal in Georgia to remain in the left lane when another vehicle is behind you and traveling at a higher rate of speed.

Long referred to as the "passing lane", the left lane of many roads and highways has increasingly become a source of both congestion and road rage due to slow drivers refusing to move over. That increased congestion and road rage can often lead to aggressive and erratic driving behavior as frustrated drivers try to get around these "slow pokes". In order to combat these congestion and road rage issues, the Georgia General Assembly passed House Bill 459.

House Bill 459, codified as O.C.G.A. 40-6-184, states in subsection (a) that "No person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation."

That particular section has long been a favorite for law enforcement officers who suspect criminal activity and want to pull a vehicle over to possibly search it, but the driver isn't really breaking any other laws. I have had argued many motions to suppress an illegal search where an officer pulled someone over for "impeding the flow of traffic" (which is pretty subjective). Of course, the officer doesn't care about the traffic citation and doesn't actually issue a ticket. Instead, he simply needed a reason to pull the driver over so he could search the car. Then the officer will try to get the driver to consent to a search of the vehicle, or he will call in a K-9 unit, with the hope of finding illegal narcotics.

Now there is a new reason to stop drivers. While I worry about the implications for the same situation outlined above regarding searches, I can honestly say that on a personal level I have been eagerly awaiting this law for quite some time. Subsection (c) says:

"Upon roads, streets, or highways with two or more lanes allowing for movement in the same direction, no person shall continue to operate a motor vehicle in the passing lane once such person knows or should reasonably know that he or she is being overtaken in such lane from the rear by a motor vehicle traveling at a higher rate of speed. For purposes of this Code section, "passing lane" means the most left-hand lane other than a high occupancy vehicle lane."

This means that even if you are going the maximum speed limit, if someone is coming up behind you is going faster than you are then you must get over to the right. The idea is that people who are in a hurry end up weaving in and out of traffic to get around slow drivers, and that can cause accidents. So if the left lane is cleared for faster drivers, and slower drivers stay to the right, the flow of traffic will be smoother and fewer accidents should result.

The law does not apply when a driver must use the left lane to exit, to turn left, in inclement weather (where snow or ice might make other lanes dangerous), for tolls, or when there are obstructions or hazards in the other lanes.

So protect yourself from unreasonable police stops, searches, hefty fines, and court fees! If you aren't passing someone, stay over to the right. Not only will it save you money and hassle, but it just might save someone's life.