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article imageGeorgia's 'Slowpoke Law' now in effect

By Arthur Weinreb     Jul 3, 2014 in Technology
Atlanta - The new Georgia law penalizes motorists who drive in the passing lane when they know someone wants to pass them. Those drivers will now be guilty of a misdemeanor offence and subject to a possible jail term.
HB 459, referred to as the "Slowpoke Law," took effect on July 1. Although it is acknowledged it will be difficult to enforce the law, it provides serious consequences for drivers in the passing lane who will not pull over to allow a vehicle that wants to go faster to pass them.
The bill was passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 162-9 in February. The following month, the legislation was passed by the Senate by a vote of 42-5. Governor Nathan Deal later signed HB 459 into law.
Under HB 459 [PDF], anyone who is in the passing lane of a highway that has at least two lanes going in the same direction and fails to pull over when they know or reasonable ought to know they are being overtaken by a vehicle driving at a higher rate of speed, is guilty of a misdemeanor offence.
There are exceptions to the requirement to pull over when driving in the passing lane when another vehicle wants to pass. Drivers can remain in the passing lane when traffic congestion requires it, when inclement weather, obstructions or hazards makes it necessary. or if a motorist must remain in the passing lane to comply with another state law or traffic device.
Drivers who are about to make a left turn or pay a toll at a toll booth can also remain in the passing lane. And emergency vehicles and those engaged in highway construction or maintenance are exempt from the requirements set out in HB 459.
Anyone who violates the law faces a fine of not more than $1,000 and can be jailed for up to one year.
Rep. Bill Hitchens, who was a state trooper for 33 years and a former head of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, was the bill's sponsor. He acknowledges the difficulty in enforcing such a law and expects the penalties for violations to be much lower than the maximums for misdemeanor offences. The law was primarily introduced to educate motorists.
Hitchens said, "I don't think a lot of people understand that on multi-lane highways with traffic going in the same direction, that slower traffic is supposed to keep right."
The purpose of the law is not to encourage speeding but to prevent accidents and road rage by those drivers who become frustrated when they want to exceed the speed of the vehicle in front of them in the passing lane.
Polk County Police Chief Kenny Dodd said a lot of road rage incidents begin when a driver cannot overtake a slower moving vehicle. He also noted some drivers drive at the speed limit in the passing lane to prevent others from speeding.
Some police departments say they will begin by warning drivers rather than charging them with misdemeanor offences.
More about slowpoke law, georgia hb 459, Road rage, misdemeanor offences
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