When Is Passing on the Right Permitted?
Bill Allen | November 10, 2023 | Florida Law
When you took a driver’s education course, you probably learned that you pass other cars on the left, not the right. While this is a good general guideline, different states have varying laws regarding passing on the right.
So, is it illegal to pass on the right in Florida? Let’s take a closer look.
Passing on the Right: What the Statute Says
Not everything written on the internet is true, so when you’re wondering if something is illegal, it’s best to go straight to the statute. In this case, that’s Florida Statute § 316.084. This law states that passing on the right is permitted only in a few situations.
If the Other Car Is Making a Left Turn
If you’ve ever been stuck behind a car waiting forever to make a left turn, you know how frustrating it can be. If there’s enough space on the road, you’re in luck — you can legally pass the waiting car on the right side.
If You’re on Most Highways
The Florida statute allows you to pass on the right on a highway or street with unobstructed pavement that isn’t occupied by parked vehicles. It must be wide enough for two or more lines of moving traffic in each direction.
That answers a question you might have had — is it illegal to pass on the right on a highway? After all, the left lane on a highway is technically for passing. But if someone is driving too slowly in the left lane, it’s perfectly fine to pass them on the right.
If You’re on a Wide One-Way Street
State statutes generally have a law for every different scenario, so of course, the Florida statute addresses the law as it applies to driving on one-way streets.
It notes that you can pass on the right if you are on a one-way street without obstructions, and that street is wide enough for at least two lines of moving cars. That applies regardless of whether there are lane markers on the street.
Determining if the street is wide enough for two lines of traffic can be hard to do on the fly. Don’t risk getting in an accident — if there’s any doubt, don’t pass.
A Very Important Stipulation
The same Florida statute clarifies that you may only pass other vehicles on the right if you can safely make the movement. It also notes that it is illegal to pass on the right by driving off the roadway.
It’s easy to be tempted to get around a slow car by pulling onto the shoulder. Don’t do it. This move isn’t just illegal — it’s dangerous for you, other people on the road, and any nearby pedestrians.
What happens if you pass a car on the right illegally? In Florida, it’s considered to be a non-criminal moving violation. Florida uses a point system, so if you accumulate too many points from repeat moving violations, your license might be suspended.
How Well Do You Know Florida Traffic Laws?
You don’t have to pore over every Florida statute related to driving, but if you want to stay safe on the road, make sure you have at least a good working knowledge of traffic laws. If you find yourself getting into an unfamiliar situation on the road, you’ll be thankful you did your homework.
Now that you know passing on the right is permitted only in certain circumstances, you’ll be better equipped to keep yourself and your passengers safe.
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