Tickets for Impeding Traffic and Driving Too Slowly

Traffic violations related to illegally blocking or impeding traffic.

While speeding tickets are more common, drivers can also be ticketed for driving too slowly. Here are some of the basics on laws that apply to driving too slowly, precautions drivers must take when driving slower than the flow of traffic, and when a slow driver can be ticketed impeding traffic.

Impeding Traffic With Slow Driving

The laws of most states generally prohibit motorists from driving at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable flow of traffic. But the circumstances under which a driver can be ticketed for going too slow also depend on the roadway and other specific conditions.

Obstructing the Flow of Traffic

The laws of some states require motorists on multi-lane highways and interstates who are driving slower than the speed limit or the normal speed of traffic to be in the right-hand lane (often called the "slow lane"). Also, it's illegal in many states to drive side-by-side with another vehicle in such a way that prevents other cars from passing.

Minimum Speed Limits

Some highways and interstates also have minimum speed limits (that may or may not be posted). For example, some states have a minimum 40-mile-per-hour limit for state highways. Motorists who are going slower than the minimum speed limit (and aren't doing in response to traffic, safety hazards, or the like) can be ticketed.

Two-Lane Roads and Pullouts

The requirements are normally different for driving on two-lane, two-way roads. Generally, drivers on these roadways must stay in the right-hand lane and as close to the right-hand side of the lane as safely possible. And if other vehicles can't safely or lawfully pass, the slower driver might be required to pull to the side of the road at a safe turnout and allow the other cars to pass. Some states have laws that specify a slow-moving vehicle must pull over at the soonest safe pullout when five or more vehicles are formed in a line behind the vehicle.

Penalties for Driving Too Slow

Penalties for obstructing the flow of traffic or driving too slowly vary by state. But the offense is generally a non-criminal traffic violation. Fines typically range from about $15 to $250. A conviction might also result in the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) assessing demerit points to the driver's record.

Defenses to Tickets for Impeding Traffic

Many circumstances can legally justify a motorist driving slow or impeding traffic. Some of the most common situation that can provide a driver with a valid defense to a ticket for impeding traffic or driving slower than the minimum speed are:

  • Poor weather conditions. A driver is permitted to drive slower than the minimum speed limit when necessary for safe operation in less-than-ideal weather conditions.
  • Road hazards. Drivers are allowed (and typically required) to slow down for certain road conditions and hazards. For example, drivers must slow their speed when cresting a hill, driving on a narrow or windy road, going around a curve, or approaching an accident or debris in the roadway.
  • Dense traffic. Of course, if you're in a traffic jam, you can't be ticketed for driving too slow.

Every situation is different. But legal justifications for driving slower than the minimum limit or obstructing traffic typically are based on safety considerations.

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