‘Slowpoke bill’ goes to the governor

The state Senate gave final legislative approval Monday to the so-called “slowpoke” bill, prohibiting driving — except for passing — in the left lane of highways with at least three lanes in each direction, with certain exceptions.

Further from the News Sentinel:

The bill won Senate approval 21-7, despite arguments that drivers already can be charged with impeding traffic in such situations. It won House approval 69-13 on March 7 and now goes to the governor, who’s likely to sign it into law.

Issuing tickets will be up to the discretion of state troopers and police officers. A violation will be a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of only $50.

Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, the bill’s Senate sponsor, said the bill applies only to highways with six or more lanes. “This is to cut down on road rage. A lot of people pull in the left-hand lane and just stay there. People pull up behind them and it causes traffic to line up. This bill is an effort to keep people out of the left-hand lane on six-lane highways.”

The law won’t apply in these circumstances: when the volume of traffic doesn’t permit safe merging into a non-passing lane; when inclement weather or a traffic control device makes it necessary to drive in the passing lane; when obstructions or hazards exist in a non-passing lane; when avoiding traffic moving onto the highway from a merging lane; when highway design makes it necessary to drive in the passing lane to exit or turn left; to emergency vehicles engaged in official duties, or to vehicles engaged in highway maintenance and construction.