passing on the right

Many traffic tickets and accidents are the result of drivers trying to get somewhere too fast, leading to them breaking the law or causing an accident.

When it comes to making illegal passes, lack of patience is almost always to blame.

But when is it illegal to pass a car? In most cases, passing on the left, except where you have to cross a double yellow line or in a situation where you might cause an accident, is legal. However, the same can’t be said for passing on the right.

Keep reading to learn when passing on the right is legal, and what you need to know to avoid improper passing tickets.

Is Passing on the Right Legal?

The answer to the question, “is passing on the right legal,” is more complicated than a simple yes or no.

That’s because there are some instances when the action is illegal. And in others, the maneuver is perfectly legal.

Let’s start with when passing on the right is illegal.

An Illegal Right-Turn Scenario

Say that you’re driving down a two-lane road, with traffic moving in both directions. The car in front of you stops in the middle of the lane and turns on their left turning signal. But with traffic coming from the other direction, they can’t turn right away.

Their car, your car, and all of the traffic behind you is left to wait until there’s an opening so that the first car in the line can make their left turn.

With no end in sight to the land of traffic, you settle in, realizing that you could be sitting there for a while.

Then, you look to your right and notice that there is a wide, paved shoulder. Maybe the shoulder is a lane for cars to park in, but there are no cars parked there at this time.

With the shoulder clear and heavy traffic still coming from the other direction, you decide to go around the car on the curb.

According to Florida Statutes, you just made an illegal turn. The problem is that even though that curb was clear, it isn’t a legal lane. This means that you can never use it for driving in traffic.

It’s there solely to park in or perhaps pull over in if an emergency occurs. And even then, signs posted can make these actions illegal as well.

Passing law says that it is never legal to pass on the right in a non-lane or by driving off the traveled road in any way.

How Can You Avoid Improper Passing Tickets?

Now that you know when passing laws say that it is illegal to pass on the right, it’s time to learn the exceptions to that rule. There are actual several instances when passing on the right in Florida is completely legal, and actually a recognized and encouraged way to drive safely in traffic.

When a Vehicle in Front of You is Making a Left Turn

The above scenario, about trying to pass a car on the right when it’s in front of you and making a left turn, isn’t always illegal.

The reason that the scenario is illegal is because you had to leave the road and drive on the curb or even off the road in order to go around the car in front of you. It wasn’t technically the passing that was illegal, it was the fact that you exited the road.

But what if there had been another legal lane to your right? If that lane was designed for traffic going in the same direction as you, and the lane was clear so that you wouldn’t obstruct traffic or cause an accident, you could simply switch lanes and go around the car in front of you.

You wouldn’t be leaving the road. So this right pass would be legal.

Passing Slower Traffic on the Right

A car stopping in the road to make a left turn is a good reason to want to pass on the right-hand side.

But it isn’t the only time when you might want to go around a vehicle and the right lane is your only option.

Consider when you’re driving down a busy road or highway with two or more lanes of traffic going in each direction. Fast-moving traffic is supposed to stay in the left lane, with slower traffic moving to the far right lane.

In some states, including Florida, it is only legal to drive in the left lane long enough to pass a car, and then you have to go back.

But what happens if traffic in a center lane is moving slow, but there are also cars driving in the far left lane? In that case, if the lane was clear and you could do so safely, you could pass the cars in the right lane.

Because it was legal to drive in that lane anyway, and you weren’t causing an accident or obstruction, there’s no reason for this maneuver to be illegal.

Passing on the Right on a One-Way Street

Another situation when passing on the right may be legal, under the right circumstances, is one a one-way road.

If the one-way road has more than one lane, it is always legal to pass on the right if you can do so safely, without causing an accident or requiring you to speed.

However, in the case of one-way roads that are wide enough for two or more vehicles, even without having two lanes, it is still legal to pass on the right if traffic has stopped in front of you. Again, you have to be able to do so without speeding or causing an accident.

Staying Legal on the Road

Besides the importance of driving safe, it’s important to know when passing on the right is legal, because making an illegal pass can lead to points on your license.

If you’ve already gotten dinged for an illegal pass or any other maneuver resulting in points on your license, check out this guide to learn what you can expect from here.