Impeding the Flow of Traffic
While nearly every motorist is aware that there are numerous laws prohibiting motor vehicle drivers from traveling at excessive speeds, some motorists are surprised to learn that there are also “slow poke” laws which restrict motor vehicle operators who drive vehicles at excessively slow speeds. In an effort to decrease traffic congestion and resulting incidents from road rage, the state of Georgia enacted legislation prohibiting motor vehicle travel at speeds so slow that a driver interferes with other motorists on the road. All individuals in the state of Georgia should understand the key details about how these laws are regulated and the various available defenses if a motorist is charged with impeding the flow of traffic. Motorists should also understand that the assistance of seasoned legal counsel can prove particularly helpful in cases involving impeding the flow of traffic.
Applicable Georgia Law
Law enforcement officers in Georgia can give individuals citations for driving too slowly in the left lane on Georgia Highway. The applicable law states that no individual in the state of Georgia is permitted to drive a motor vehicle so slowly as to prevent “the normal and reasonable movement of traffic” except in situations when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation. This law was created due to the belief that in many circumstances driving too slowly can be just as detrimental as driving at speeds that are too fast for conditions. These laws also make road conditions easier for ambulances to quickly arrive at destinations. Another reason for the creation of the law is that slower motorist tends to cause faster moves to weave around traffic in order to avoid slow drivers, which causes a number of accidents each year.
Consequences of an Impeding the Flow of Traffic Charge
A charge of impeding the flow of traffic can result in particularly strict penalties. Individuals can expect to a maximum fine of one thousand dollars in addition to having three points placed on the individual’s Georgia driver’s license. The accumulation of fifteen or more points within a twenty four month period can result in an individual’s license being suspended.
Georgia Slowpoke Law
Another applicable law in the state of Georgia requires a motorist to move over if a motor vehicle behind the individual is traveling well above the speed limit. This law, which has been dubbed the Georgia “Slow Poke” law and is also known as House Bill 459 is meant to improve traffic congestion and tailgating by leaving the left lane open for motor vehicle drivers who traveling at faster speeds. Under this “Slow Poke” law, a motor vehicle operator who does not move out of a lane when a faster motor vehicle approaches are at risk of receiving a citation under this law. Despite the “Slow Poke” law, there are several circumstances in which motor vehicle operators are able to remain in the left lane, which include the following situations:
- Adverse Conditions. If adverse weather conditions or roadside obstructions require a motor vehicle driver to drive in the left lane then a motor vehicle driver will be permitted to do so.
- Authorized Vehicles. Authorized emergency vehicles that are performing official duties are permitted to travel in the left most lane.
- Compliance. If a driver must travel in the left lane in order to comply with an applicable law or the direction of a traffic control device then the individual should do so.
- Congestion. If traffic congestion makes it necessary for a motor vehicle operator to drive in the left lane then the motor vehicle driver will be permitted to do so.
- Construction. Vehicles that are performing highway maintenance or construction are permitted to travel in the left most lane.
- Tolls. Motor vehicle drivers are permitted to travel in the left lane when the driver must either pay a toll or use a pass.
- Vehicle Directional Changes. Motor vehicle operators are permitted to drive in the passing lane if the vehicle operator is turning left or exiting the highway.
Georgia law enforcement officers are not required to provide motorists with warnings about the “slow poke” law and can ticket a motorist even if the motorist is unaware of the law’s existence.
Motor vehicle drivers should remember to only use the far left-hand lane when passing other vehicles. Drivers should also always remember to yield to faster traffic by merging back over to the right lane. Motorists in the state of Georgia should also note that in areas with more than two lanes of traffic, Georgia’s “slow poke” law only applies to the “most left-handed lane other than a high occupancy vehicle lane”, which means that drivers are not required to move all the way to the far right lane.
Available Defenses to Impeding Traffic Citations
There are several available defenses for individuals who are charged with violations of impeding the flow of traffic or Georgia’s “slow poke” law. Some of these defenses include the following:
- Passing Slower Traffic. The vehicle’s driver was passing even slower-moving traffic to the left and the driver was prepared to return to the right lane once these vehicles had been passed and it was safe to make a lane change.
- Preparing for Left Turn. The motorist was preparing to make a left turn.
- Safe Speed. The motor vehicle driver’s speed was required in order to stay safe while traveling due to road conditions including darkness, rain, wind, or other adverse conditions.
Contact a Skilled Georgia Traffic Ticket Attorney
If you are charged with impeding the traffic in the state of Georgia, it is an extremely wise idea to quickly retain the services of a knowledgeable attorney like the legal counsel at Yeargan, Barber & Kert who make sure that your case resolves in the best possible manner. Our legal counsel will review a variety of factors including the general flow of traffic, the time of day, and weather conditions to determine if any of these elements played into a motor vehicle driver’s decision to travel at an excessively slow speed or not change to the right-hand lane. Our lawyers know what it takes to win tough cases and will remain committed to making sure that your case resolves in a positive manner. At Yeargan, Barber & Kert, we are committed to helping individuals defend against impeding the flow of traffic charges.