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State Laws

State “keep right” laws

You may use the left lane (when there is more than one lane in your direction) to pass. You may or may not be able to use the left lane when not passing. The table below describes the law in effect in each state.

A few states permit use of the left lane only for passing or turning left. These have “yes” in the “keep right” column. Six states require drivers to move right if they are blocking traffic in the left lane. Most states follow the Uniform Vehicle Code Keep Rightand require drivers to keep right if they are going slower than the normal speed of traffic (regardless of the speed limit; see below). These are listed as “slower”, with an asterisk and an explanation under “comments”Policeman looking at you, left lane if vehicles lawfully using the left lane must yield to overtaking traffic. A few states either do not require vehicles to keep right (“no”), or permit vehicles moving at the speed limit to drive in the left lane regardless of traffic conditions (“<SL”).

 

State “Keep Right” Laws
State Keep Right? Law Comments
Alabama slower 32-5A-80(b)
Alaska <SL 13 AAC 002.50(b) Keep right if below speed limit.
Arizona slower 28-721(B)
Arkansas no 27-51-301(b) Law prohibits obstructing traffic by driving continuously in the left lane.
California slower VC 21654(a) “Notwithstanding the prima facie speed limits”
Colorado slower* 42-4-1001(2), 42-4-1103(3), 42-4-1013 The left lane is reserved for passing when the speed limit is 65 or higher. State Patrol brochurediscussing law
Connecticut slower 14-230(b) Passing on right on Interstate prohibited when only two lanes, 14-233(4)
Delaware slower 21-4114(b)
D.C. slower 18-2201.2
Florida slower 316.081(2) Governor Bush vetoed 2005 SB732, which would have reserved the left lane for passing, saying that drivers blocking the left lane are “cautious and careful.”
Georgia slower* 40-6-40(b)40-6-184(a)(2) If below speed limit in left lane and blocking overtaking traffic, must move right.
Hawaii slower 291C-41(b) Honolulu prohibits driving more than 5 MPH under the limit in the left lane.
Idaho slower 49-630(2)
Illinois yes 625 ILCS 5/11-701(b),(d) Keep right except to pass on limited access highways effective January 1, 2004.
Indiana slower 9-21-8-2(b)
Iowa slower 321.297(2)
Kansas yes 8-1522(c), 8-1514(b) Keep right law effective July 1, 2009 (bill 154 of 2009 session)
Kentucky yes 189.340(7) Only where the speed limit is at least 65
Louisiana yes R.S. 32:71 On multilane highways keep right except to pass and move right if blocking overtaking traffic.
Maine yes 29A-2052(6) Only where the speed limit is at least 65
Maryland <SL 21-301 If driving 10 MPH under speed limit, or slower than speed of traffic if conditions require speed below limit.
Massachusetts yes 89-4B Passing on right prohibited on undivided two-way road, 89-2
Michigan weird 257.634 Except in heavy traffic or on freeways with three or more lanes.
Minnesota slower 169.18(10)
Mississippi slower 63-3-603(d)
Missouri slower 304.015(3) 304.151 prohibits “obstruct[ing] the regular flow of traffic on…any state highway”
Montana slower 61-8-321(2)
Nebraska slower 60-6,131(2)
Nevada slow 484.373 Move right if “imped[ing] … movement of traffic”
New Hampshire slower 265:16
New Jersey yes 39:4-88 Passing on right prohibited unless vehicles are in “substantially continuous lines”. 39:4-85.
New Mexico slower 66-7-308(B)
New York slower V&TL 1120 (No link — New York hides its laws from people using text browsers.)
North Carolina <SL 20-146(b),(e) Keep right if below speed limit.
North Dakota slower
Ohio <SL 4511.25 Ohio used to follow the UVC. In 2006 bicyclists lobbied for and won the right to obstruct traffic by going the speed limit. Left lane for passing only on Turnpike, regulation 5537-2-09.
Oklahoma yes 47-11-30147-11-309 Keep right except to pass on four lanes in effect late 2009.
Oregon slower 811.315
Pennsylvania usually 75-3313(d), 75-3301(b) May also use left lane to allow traffic to merge or “when traveling at a speed greater than the traffic flow”.
Puerto Rico <SL Title 9 §5123
Rhode Island slower 31-15-2 No passing on right on two-way street, 31-15-5
South Carolina slower 56-5-1810(b)
South Dakota no 32-26-1 “Slow moving vehicles” keep right
Tennessee slower 55-8-115(b)
Texas slower 545.051(b) DOT may post “left lane for passing only”, 544.011. Passing on right prohibited except on one-way roadways, 545.057.
Utah slower* 41-6a-701(3)41-6a-704 Must move right to let faster traffic pass.
Vermont slower 23-1031(b)
Virginia slower* 46.2-804(1) 46.2-842.1 requires vehicles in the left lane to yield to faster traffic; State Police say this applies even when faster traffic is speeding.
Washington usually 46.61.100(2) May also use left lane to allow traffic to merge or “when traveling at a speed greater than the traffic flow”.
West Virginia slower 17C-7-1(b)
Wisconsin slower 346.05(3)
Wyoming slower 31-5-201(b) Law excepts “one-way streets”. Effective July 1, 2005, it is illegal to block traffic moving within the speed limit by driving in the left lane for a long time.

The Uniform Vehicle Code states:

Upon all roadways any vehicle proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic …

Note that this law refers to the “normal” speed of traffic, not the “legal” speed of traffic. The 60 MPH driver in a 55 MPH zone where everybody else is going 65 MPH must move right. Contrast Alaska’s rule, 13 AAC 002.50, allowing vehicles driving at the speed limit to use the left lane, and Colorado rev. stat. 42-4-1103, prohibiting blocking the “normal and reasonable” movement of traffic.

(Enforcement for failing to keep right while at or above the speed limit is variable. Toledo police have ticketed truck drivers for driving at the 60 MPH speed limit in the left lane. Police looking for criminal activity are aware of the “keep right” law and will use it as an excuse to stop a suspicious car. On the other hand, a New York judge announced that he would not convict drivers for blocking speeding traffic, People v. Ilieveski, 175 Misc. 2d 943; 670 N.Y.S.2d 1004 (Monroe County N.Y. 1998), and most police find speeding easier and more profitable to enforce.)

See also the speed law list.

Do the right thing!: June is lane courtesy month.

This page by John Carr.