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 and 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" 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").
The color coding in the "keep right" column is red if the state has no restriction on slow vehicles in the left lane, yellow if vehicles moving at the normal speed of traffic are permitted in the left lane even when they are unnecessarily obstructing other traffic, green if use of the left lane is limited to passing, and grey otherwise.
|Alaska||<SL||13 AAC 002.50(b)||Keep right if below speed limit.|
|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 brochure discussing law|
|Connecticut||slower||14-230(b)||Passing on right on Interstate prohibited when only two lanes, 14-233(4)|
|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.|
|Illinois||yes||625 ILCS 5/11-701(b),(d)||Keep right except to pass on limited access highways effective January 1, 2004.|
|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.|
|Missouri||slower||304.015(3)||304.151 prohibits "obstruct[ing] the regular flow of traffic on...any state highway"|
|Nevada||slow||484.373||Move right if "imped[ing] ... movement of traffic"|
|New Jersey||yes||39:4-88||Passing on right prohibited unless vehicles are in "substantially continuous lines". 39:4-85.|
|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.|
|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||47-11-301, 47-11-309||Keep right except to pass on four lanes in effect late 2009.|
|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 Dakota||no||32-26-1||"Slow moving vehicles" keep right|
|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.|
|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".|
|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.
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