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New law: Move right or get a ticket
0716slow 3
Drivers pile up behind a southbound pickup truck on I-985 approaching the Atlanta Highway overpass. - photo by NAT GURLEY

A new law makes not moving over to another lane when there’s faster traffic behind you an offense for which you could get a ticket.

Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, said this law, which went into effect July 1, shouldn’t come as a surprise to motorists.

“One of the first things I learned when I took my driver’s test was slower traffic keep right,” Lumsden said. “Georgia law says that already in two code sections, but that language is buried in those other two code sections. What this does is breaks this out and puts in a stand-alone bill.”

The previous wording was not enough to keep slow drivers out of the left lanes, said Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville.

“What we’ve experienced, unfortunately, is that without any penalty a lot of people were not obeying that law,” Hawkins said. “So this bill simply puts the penalty phase into it.”

The reworded bill says that “no person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation.”

Drivers can face up to a $1,000 fine, a year in prison and points on their license, according to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

Hawkins was the second to sign House Bill 459 after Rep. Bill Hitchens, R-Rincon, sponsored it.

“The reason for this and how this came about was a safety issue,” Hawkins said. “We’ve got people trying to pass on the interstate on the right-hand side and unfortunately we have cars (speeding) in those lanes.”

Hawkins said he hopes the law will also relieve some congestion by consolidating some traffic to the right-hand lane.
For Gainesville law enforcement, the law might prove difficult to enforce, said Cpl. Kevin Holbrook, Gainesville Police Department spokesman.

“With Gainesville’s location, we typically monitor Interstate 985,” Holbrook said. “Many times during peak hours, 985 is so congested that it is hard to enforce a law such as this.”

Because this is a new law, he said, law enforcement will allow a grace period before handing out citations.

“It is a law on the books now and it is something that we as law enforcement can act on and write a citation if necessary,” he said. “But each case is different and it depends on the actual scenario that the officer will be dealing with.”

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