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South Carolina’s new ‘slowpoke’ law takes effect Sunday. Here’s what you need to know

Highway Patrol: Law “is not an excuse for people to speed”
Published: Aug. 14, 2021 at 10:25 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 14, 2021 at 11:38 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina drivers who hold up traffic in the far left lane on certain roads will soon be breaking the law.

On Sunday, the state’s new “move right” law – also dubbed the “slowpoke” law – takes effect. It requires drivers to only use the far left hand lane on controlled access highways like interstates for passing except when no other vehicle is behind them or they need to exit on a ramp on the left side of the road.

Lance Cpl. Nick Pye with the South Carolina Highway Patrol said slow drivers in the left lane are a significant problem for traffic flow.

The new law aims to fix that and solve a number of other common highway headaches.

“The small goals of this are to prevent congestion. You know, obviously in Charleston we see a lot of that as well as in Columbia and Greenville – everywhere in the state, honestly, we see congestion,” Pye said. “Also, it is to give that kind of an open lane or more open lane for first responders, fire, EMS, police, to be able to get where they’re going without being delayed.”

It is also designed to reduce road rage, which Pye said has been on the increase in recent years.

Gov. Henry McMaster signed the bill into law in May after state lawmakers from both sides of the aisle showed strong support for it.

While the law takes effect Sunday, there will be a 90-day grace period during which police officers will give warnings. After that, drivers can be subject to citations of $25.

Motorist Mike Guffee from the Upstate said he supports the law but does not want to see it encourage fast drivers. Still, he has seen numerous slower vehicles in the left lane that have caused traffic issues.

“I just drove down from Greenville (Saturday), and I probably ran up on about 12 of them,” he said. “I had to go in the slow lane to get around them.”

Pye said law enforcement officials will enforce this new law just like they do other traffic laws on the books. He also stressed the speed limit is just that: a maximum allowable speed.

“This is not an excuse for people to speed, but when you’re going 45 miles an hour in the left lane when the speed limit is 60 or 65, that is causing a delay,” he said.

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