Chattanooga Times Free Press (TN)
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March 07–NASHVILLE — It took less than five minutes Monday night for the Tennessee House to approve a proposed “slowpoke law” aimed at slow-moving motorists dawdling in passing lanes on interstates and other roadways with at least three lanes in a single direction.
The bill passed 69-13. The companion bill still awaits Senate action.
“This bill simply designates the far left lane of all three interstate-type roads in Tennessee as passing lanes. Drivers cannot continuously drive in the far left lane and impede the normal flow of traffic,” said Rep. Dan Howell, R-Georgetown, the bill’s House sponsor.
Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, told Howell and colleagues that he lives some 300 miles away from the state Capitol in Nashville.
“I absolutely love this bill,” Lundberg said.
His only question was why the bill’s application is being restricted solely to interstates and divided highways with at least three lanes of traffic going in a single direction.
Howell, who noted 29 other states have similar laws, said “we thought it would be good to try this as a pilot.”
Violates would be subject to a Class C misdemeanor and subject to a $50 penalty if they choose not to contest a ticket or, if they do contest it, a judge finds them guilty.
That provision drew questions from Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, who asked if the bill had only gone through the House Transportation Committee and not one of the judiciary committees.
Moments before Clemmons saw his own bill, which sought to make it a Class C misdemeanor for motorists veering into a bike lane in most instances, re-referred by majority Republicans from the House floor to the Criminal Justice Committee.
That came after a GOP lawmaker questioned why Clemmons’ bill went only through the Transportation Committee.
Rep. Ron Travis, R-Dayton, pointed out that because the would-be law is a Class C misdemeanor, motorists could face a hike in their insurance if they acknowledge their guilt or are found guilty by a judge.