Slower motorists in Minnesota best stick to the right lane — or face a possible fine come Aug. 1.
A measure aimed at drivers who linger in the left lane was signed into law last month, according to Sen. John Jasinski, R-Faribault, who sponsored the bill at the Capitol.
Those violating the new law could face a fine of $50, plus a $75 surcharge.
“It’s something everyone can relate to,” Jasinski said. “Everyone’s been in that position, being behind someone in the left lane. It’s frustrating.”
While every state has a law requiring slower vehicles to move to the right lane, only about a dozen have full-fledged edicts that involve a financial penalty, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Fines vary across the country, from as little as $20 to more than $250.
“We’re basically modernizing existing language related to lane usage that’s on the books,” said Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Gordon Shank. “We’re saying when it’s practical, move out of the left lane to allow vehicles to pass.”
Doing so could mitigate road rage incidents, he added.
Jasinski’s bill, which received bipartisan support, was actually his second attempt since 2018. The first version, which carried a higher fine, met with some resistance from the State Patrol, which worried the earlier version promoted speeding.
The second time around, language was tweaked to allay concerns of law enforcement, Jasinski said.
“One thing we’re making very clear is that this law does not allow for speeding,” Shank said. “Some people have said, ‘Now I can speed in the left lane.’ That’s not what we’re saying. What we’re saying is, ‘Move over to the right lane.’ ”
The law doesn’t quantify how slow a vehicle must be traveling in the left lane in order to be cited. It just states, “a person must move out of the left-most lane to allow another vehicle to pass” when practical.
Jasinski said he received an overwhelming response to the bill, most of it positive, and much of it on social media.
“Some people were saying, ‘Obviously, Jasinski doesn’t have something better to do.’ ” he said, noting he sponsored or co-sponsored numerous bills this legislative session. (One was the state’s new law limiting drivers to hands-free cellphone technology, which also goes into effect Aug. 1.)
He said the new law won’t affect Twin Cities residents as much as drivers in greater Minnesota, who are used to open stretches of road.
“Really it will be the areas from Faribault and Albert Lea to Minneapolis, between St. Cloud and Minneapolis, Forest Lake to Duluth, where [left-lane drivers] seem to be the most frustrating,” he said.
There are some exceptions to the new law. If someone is driving on a road with more than one lane in the same direction, the law doesn’t apply when a driver is preparing to turn left at an intersection or looking to exit from the left lane on a controlled-access highway.
“I don’t think the State Patrol will do a ton of tickets,” Jasinski said. “They’ll do some, but it’s more about the public awareness.”
When asked about enforcement, Shank said, “We’ll see how it goes; it will take time. With any law there’s a little bit of adjustment for everyone involved. Obviously, as with any traffic violation, we will enforce the law as we see it.”
Janet Moore • 612-673-7752 Twitter: @MooreStrib