You may have heard of the new “slow-poke” law which is advertised as prohibiting people from driving slow in the left lane. Not quite. The new law reads: “Upon a roadway with more than one lane in the same direction of travel, a person must move out of the left-most lane to allow another vehicle to pass, when practicable under existing conditions.”
Thus, the law does not set a minimum speed for the left lane, but rather requires persons to get out of the left lane to allow another vehicle to pass – so long as it is practicable to do so. This means you are free to drive in the left lane at any legal speed, but if another vehicle wants to pass you, you are required to move over (if you can).
There are exceptions to this law. If you are preparing for a left turn or a left exit, you may drive in the left lane even if another vehicle wants to pass. If you are passing another vehicle, you are free to do so, even if the vehicle behind you wants to pass at a faster speed than you. If you are travelling in a lane designated and posted for a specific traffic type, you are not required to move out of that lane.
Enforcement of this law may be difficult in some circumstances. Application of these exceptions is not exactly clear, and the phrase “when practicable under the circumstances” is subject to interpretation. It will be interesting to see how this law develops over time. If you have been cited for violating the “slow poke” law, you should contact a criminal defense attorney and see if a challenge to the law is appropriate in your case. Attorney Joseph Gangi may be reached via email or phone at 507-625-2525.
This webpage contains general information and not legal advice. It is based on Minnesota law in effect at the time of writing. An attorney can advise you about how the law applies to your specific situation.