Fines for slow left-lane drivers? It could happen!

Okay, I’ll admit it — it’s a pet peeve of mine. When you’re driving down a freeway — not during rush hour when everything’s stop-and-go, but maybe in the middle of the day when traffic’s sparse and cars are moving along at the speed limit — and some driver’s poking along in the left lane doing just the limit, or maybe even a bit under . . . that makes me crazy!

I guess a lot of drivers haven’t gotten the memo that technically you’re not supposed to use that left lane unless you’re passing. I actually talked to a Washington State trooper about this once, and he told me what many people haven’t learned yet: If you’re in the left lane going, say, 60, and someone comes blasting up behind you going 80, sure — that driver is technically speeding, which is against the law, but you’re in the wrong too if you don’t move over. This trooper told me it’s not your job to enforce the speed limit; if somebody’s speeding, the WSP will get ’em eventually, but you, Mr. or Ms. left-lane slowpoke, need to get out of the way and pick another lane.

You already risk a $124 fine for violating the left lane rule. But now, a state senator from Spokane, Michael Baumgartner, wants to raise the stakes a little bit: The slower you’re driving in the passing lane, the higher your fine would be.

According to KING5:

Baumgartner describes it as a speeding ticket but in reverse . . .  It’s already illegal in Washington to drive in the left lane unless you are passing another vehicle, making room for a merging vehicle, or preparing to turn or exit to the left. Drivers can be fined $124 for violating the left lane rule.

Baumgartner’s bill would add additional dollars to that fine.

  • $27 for driving 1-to-5 mph under the speed limit
  • $37 for 6-to-10 mph under
  • $52 for 11-to-15 mph under
  • $67 for 16-to-20 mph under

I think the guy’s on to something. What do you think of the senator’s idea? Join the conversation on our Facebook page.

About John Fisher

John is a Midwest native who started his Northwest radio career in 1992 after moving to Seattle from Chicago. He’s an avid cyclist, painter, traveler, foodie, and dog lover (Hazel and Gizmo, both shelter dogs.) He’s worked with various animal organizations including PAWS, Seattle Humane Society and Seattle Animal Shelter. John got a late start on fatherhood – he and his wife have a 5-year-old son named Dawson who already has a crush on Katy Perry.