The Left Lane Law and Who Needs to Get Out of It

Picture a scenario where you are on a two lane road, there are two vehicles side by side going the same speed, and many cars are stuck behind these two cars. You have probably been there before, and it is a frustrating experience. Under Indiana law, the driver in the left lane is committing a traffic violation. I.C. § 9-21-5-9 is the Left Lane Law and states as follows:

  • (a) A vehicle that travels at a speed less than the established maximum shall travel in the right lanes to provide for better flow of traffic on the interstate highways.
  • (b) This subsection applies to the operation of a vehicle:
    • (1) on a roadway that has two (2) or more lanes of traffic in each direction; and
    • (2) in the left most lane, other than a lane designated for high occupancy vehicles.
  • Except as provided in subsection (c), a person who knows, or should reasonably know, that another vehicle is overtaking from the rear the vehicle that the person is operating may not continue to operate the vehicle in the left most lane.
  • (c) Subsection (b) does not apply:
    • (1) when traffic conditions or congestion make it necessary to operate a vehicle in the left most lane;
    • (2) when inclement weather, obstructions, or hazards make it necessary to operate a vehicle in the left most lane;
    • (3) when compliance with a law, a regulation, an ordinance, or a traffic control device makes it necessary to operate a vehicle in the left most lane;
    • (4) when exiting a roadway or turning to the left;
    • (5) when paying a toll or user fee at a toll collection facility;
    • (6) to an authorized emergency vehicle operated in the course of duty; or
    • (7) to vehicles operated or used in the course of highway maintenance or construction.  
  • (d) A person who violates this section commits a Class C infraction.

In a nutshell, if a driver on a road with more than two lanes is driving in the left lane and another car is in the left lane and trying to get around this driver, then the slower driver has a duty to move over into the right lane unless one of the exceptions applies. The idea behind the law is to keep traffic moving and allow drivers to get around other drivers that are driving slower than they are. The scenario where a semi passes another semi while going a mere 1 MPH faster than the semi being passed, while frustrating, appears to be allowed under this law, so long as the passing semi is actually passing the semi in the right lane and gets over in the right lane once the pass is completed if there are other cars in the left lane attempting to pass the passing semi.

A Class C infraction is considered to be civil, not criminal, in nature, and most traffic violations are civil infractions. If you were (allegedly) being a slowpoke in the left lane and need an attorney, give me a call.

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