Officers work to enforce new 'Slow Poke Law' - KMSP-TV

Officers work to enforce new 'Slow Poke Law'

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ATLANTA -

The "slow poke law" went into effect on July 1st. Drivers in the far left lane of a 2-lane highway must now move over a lane, if a faster vehicle comes up behind them. It's one of Georgia's newest traffic laws, but it may not be an easy one for officers to enforce.

We've all seen it; a slower, stubborn driver camped out in the far left lane, backing up traffic. The state's new "slow poke law" is meant to reduce wrecks and road rage, but will it work?

Atlanta traffic is frustrating enough, but add slow poke drivers jamming things up in the passing lane, and sometimes sparks will fly. "The aggression starts, they start tailgating, they start flashing headlights," explains Sandy Springs Police Sergeant Scott Levy.

It's a situation that can turn dangerous quickly. "There are some safety issues involved with people that are traveling below the speed limit, or impeding the flow of traffic in that far left lane," adds Sgt. Levy.

Now, on any 2-lane highway, if the slower driver doesn't move over a lane, they could be the ones that end up with a ticket.

From a higher vantage point along GA 400, it didn't take long for Sergeant Levy to spot drivers who could be ticketed. "That's an example of an obvious violation right there, you've got a guy tootling down in the left lane, got cars stacking up behind him," points out Sgt. Levy.

Sgt. Levy says he will be on the lookout for specific patterns, "A significant gap, or a significant space between that initial vehicle and any vehicles up ahead."

But at the same time, Sgt. Levy says, the new law won't always be clear cut. and in some cases the speeding vehicle could be ticketed instead. "This law does not give permission for people to speed, does not give permission to follow too close, doesn't give permission for people to honk their horns unnecessarily or flash their headlights or drive aggressively," Sgt. Levy states.

Sgt. Levy says when that car comes speeding up behind you, just don't be stubborn; be smart and move over. "They're doing the speed limit, technically they're not doing anything wrong and sometimes people get upset.... 'Why is this person right up on my back bumper, flashing headlights at me? I'm already doing the speed limit,' and then that pride gets in the way sometimes and they don't want to move over," explains Sgt. Levy.

Bottom line though, it's just not worth the risk. "The time to play police is not when you're driving down the road with your family in the minivan, move over let the person go by," he adds.

Sandy Springs says with new laws, they usually give a 30-day grace period and only issue warnings while people are still learning about the law. They also want to be clear, this is different from the "Move Over Law," which says, slow down dramatically or move over if you see emergency vehicles or law enforcement that are stopped.

The law, again, applies on any highway with 2 or more lanes. There are seven exceptions to the law:

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