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A Guide to South Carolina Left Lane Law

Greetings fellow drivers! As someone who spends a considerable amount of time on the roads of our beautiful state of South Carolina, I understand the frustrations of encountering slow drivers in the left lane, bless their hearts. This blog post is aimed at educating everyone about the rules of the road, specifically the South Carolina Left Lane Law, or “Slowpoke Law” in hopes of improving our collective driving experience.

Understanding the South Carolina Left Lane Law

The South Carolina Left Lane Law was introduced to the House in 2014 as Section 56-5-1885 by Reps. Putnam, Cobb-Hunter and McCoy, and represented a motion to improve traffic flow and safety. Its purpose is simple: to regulate the use of the farthest left lane of a multilane highway and discourage unnecessary cruising in the left lane.

Key Provisions

The law makes it illegal to drive in the farthest left lane unless overtaking and passing another vehicle. This provision aims to keep the left lane clear for faster moving or passing traffic, preventing it from becoming a rolling roadblock.

However, the law has reasonable exceptions:

  1. No vehicle directly behind: If there is no vehicle directly behind you in the left lane, you’re permitted to stay in the left lane.
  2. Traffic congestion: When the right lanes are congested or impractical to drive in, it is lawful to drive in the left lane.
  3. Obstructions or hazards: If there are obstructions or hazards in the right lane, it’s permissible to drive in the left lane.
  4. Preparing for a left turn or exit: If a left turn or exit is approaching, you are allowed to be in the left lane.
  5. Emergency and maintenance vehicles: Law enforcement vehicles, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles engaged in official duties, and vehicles engaged in highway maintenance and construction operations are exempt from this rule.

The law also prohibits driving in the left lane at a speed of at least five miles less than the posted speed limit. Violating these rules could earn you a two-point violation on your driving record.

Implications for Drivers

Knowing and following these provisions is crucial for the safety of all road users. Left lane hogging can lead to traffic congestion, road rage, and dangerous driving behavior, like unsafe passing and speeding. Remember, the rules are there for our safety and to ensure smoother traffic flow.

Violating this law can lead to consequences like fines and points on your driving record. Specifically, driving at least five miles less than the posted speed limit in the farthest left lane of a multilane highway is a two-point violation.


In conclusion, the South Carolina Left Lane Law is pretty simple and straightforward. Keep the left lane free for passing or turning, unless conditions necessitate its use. Following this rule not only ensures your safety but also contributes to a smoother, more efficient traffic flow. Let’s all commit to be courteous and considerate drivers, ensuring a safer, less stressful experience on South Carolina’s highways. Stay safe and keep right except to pass, bless your hearts!