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Impeding the Flow of Traffic

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Have You Been Cited For Impeding the Flow of Traffic In Violation of O.C.G.A § 40-6-184?

As Amended 2014 and in the Vernacular Georgia's “Slow Poke” Law

As of July 1, 2014, law enforcement officers can give you a ticket in Georgia for driving too slowly in the left lane on Georgia highways.

O.C.G.A § 40-6-184 reads in part 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.”

Representative Mark Butler of Carrollton pointed out years ago out that driving too slowly can be just as dangerous as driving too fast. "They're causing a lot of frustration for the drivers behind them," Representative Butler explained of drivers travelling below the speed limit in the left lane.

"They're also causing people to weave in and out of traffic in order to get around the slower drivers, which also causes a much larger hazard. The left-hand lane on these multi-lane roads is supposed to be used for passing only."

Despite the intended purpose of the left lane, many drivers use it to cruise longer distances. An old law, Georgia Code Ann., § 40-6-184, addressed Representative Butler's concerns by prohibiting people from driving at such a slow speed that it impedes the “normal and reasonable movement of traffic.” However, this law allowed people to continue in the left lane if drivers are driving the speed limit.

A new law has amended Georgia Code Ann., § 40-6-184. Under the new law, you must move over even if the car behind you is going well beyond the speed limit. This new Georgia “Slow Poke” law, which is officially called House Bill 459, is meant to further improve traffic congestion and tailgating by freeing up the fast left lane for drivers moving faster.  State Representative Bill Hitchens from Effingham County wrote the bill.

Under House Bill 459, slow drivers in the left lane on a four-lane Georgia highway, interstate, or expressway must move to the right lane when a faster car approaches them from behind.  A slower driver who does not move out of the high-speed lane may be ticketed under this new law.

"This is just enforcing the manners your mother should have taught you," says the author of House Bill 459 and retired commander of the state's highway patrol, State Representative Bill Hitchens from Effingham County.  Representative Hitchens explains, "if people are trying to go faster than you, move over and let them go. When slower drivers - even those doing the speed limit - clog up the road, it can cause conflicts.”

Al Barber of Barber's Driving School clarifies, "the spirit of the new law is very simple. We want to reduce traffic congestion and other problems that cause collisions out there. The number one cause of collision in Georgia is people following too closely. And it's a domino effect when rear-ended collision happens. It causes problems for not just two vehicles, but multiple cars. I think the 'Slow Poke' law is a good law for the overall safety for the public."

Rockmart Police Chief Keith Sorrells has noticed that “slowpokes” tend to be people on cell phones. “So many times, they are in the left lane talking on the telephone and that is what is slowing people down,” he says.  Of course, speaking on a cell phone, texting, or dialing is covered by our distracted driving laws.

While this law has already taken effect, Al Barber reminds officers to remember that it might take drivers some time to remember this new law. He trusts that officers will simply hand out warnings for the beginning days of the Bill.

There are exceptions to this new law. People can stay in the left lane in the following circumstances:

  • When traffic conditions or congestion make it necessary to drive in the passing lane;
  • When inclement weather, obstructions, or hazards make it necessary to drive in the passing lane;
  • When compliance with a law of this state or with an official traffic control device makes it necessary to drive in the passing lane;
  • When a vehicle must be driven in the passing lane to exit or turn left;
  • On toll highways, when necessary to pay a toll or use a pass;
  • To authorized emergency vehicles engaged in official duties; or
  • To vehicles engaged in highway maintenance and construction operations.

The Penalties For Impeding the Flow of Traffic:

Violating this law will be a misdemeanor offense. The amount of the fine will vary depending on the jurisdiction, judge, and prosecutor, however the maximum fine is $1000.00.  In addition, if convicted, you will be assessed 3 points on your Georgia Driver's License.

If you are facing a traffic violation in Metro Atlanta, call your Atlanta Traffic Ticket Lawyer Richard Lawson. He is a former DUI Prosecutor with more than 20 years experience defending people accused of traffic offenses throughout Metro Atlanta and North Georgia. Call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  We are here when you need us most.

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