Bill cementing left lane on highway as ‘passing’ lane clears first House hurdle
Revamping one of the nation’s busiest highways is challenging, dangerous and full of headaches.

'It'll prevent gridlock, prevent more encounters, prevent the weaving and changing lanes.'

The left lane is for passing. That’s the takeaway from a new bill moved with a 15-0 vote by a House panel.

HB 421, entitled “Driving on the furthermost left-hand lane of a roadway,” is intended to put a stop to drivers who get in the left lane when they aren’t passing motorists.

“On a road, street, or highway having two or more lanes allowing movement in the same direction with a posted speed limit of at least 65 miles per hour, a driver may not continuously operate a motor vehicle in the furthermost left hand lane, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle, when preparing to exit the road, street, or highway, or when otherwise directed by an official traffic control device,” the bill from Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka reads.

The Naples lawyer told the House Transportation & Modals Subcommittee Wednesday that the legislation was necessary to preserve a safe flow of traffic. The current language is “difficult to enforce” and “confusing,” leading to this legislation to “clarify” that the left lane on highways with speed limits of 65 and over is for passing only.

“It’ll prevent gridlock, prevent more encounters, prevent the weaving and changing lanes,” Persons-Mulicka promised.

Some exceptions apply. Emergency vehicles and highway maintenance vehicles can still drive in the left lane with impunity. And people can and should still use the left lane to pass motorists in right hand lanes.

“If you saw a passing only sign, that sends a clearer message,” Persons-Mulicka said in response to questions in the committee.

The fine is nominal for this infraction. It could be as low as $60, but added fees could push that number to $158.

“Under current law if you do not move over while you’re being overtaken, that is a moving violation, and you could be fined if you do not move over,” Persons-Mulicka noted

A committee bill analysis ahead of the meeting pointed out potential problems with the legislation. An amendment offered cleanup regarding the word “continuously” in the original bill, and clarifying that “high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes” would be exempt, meaning that the lane to the right of the HOV lane would be the passing lane.

The House bill has one more committee stop before the floor. The Senate version (SB 464) was introduced by Keith Perry last week, and it has three stops ahead before full Senate consideration.

If this bill becomes law, it will take effect Jan. 1, 2024

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • tom palmer

    March 15, 2023 at 4:58 pm

    good luck enforcing it.

    • It’s Complicated

      March 16, 2023 at 9:31 am

      My question is, ‘Will law enforcement agencies train and direct LEOs to enforce it?’ If those two things don’t occur, it will not matter what law Legislators pass. In many parts of the state, LEAs and LEOs have bigger fish to fry. FHP can certainly be counted on to enforce it, though.

  • Andrew Finn

    March 17, 2023 at 10:15 am

    Yeah right — People will poke along in congested lanes while the wide open and empty left lane is just sitting there. Good luck enforcing that, seeing as how they don’t enforce half the laws already in place now.

    • It's Complicated

      March 17, 2023 at 11:35 am

      Good grief. Read the bill… and the article for that matter. No one would be expected to “poke along” in the right lanes in congested areas (on roads with a posted speed limit of at least 65 MPH) because the left lane is reserved for PASSING the right lanes.

Comments are closed.


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