Lawless Laws: Enforcing or not enforcing driving slowly in the left lane


POSTED: Thursday, November 7, 2013 - 11:15pm

UPDATED: Thursday, November 7, 2013 - 11:50pm

Thousands of laws are enacted in order to protect motorists -- but some are widely ignored -- not just by the public, but authorities as well.

Section 545.051 -- it's there, it's the law and it's often ignored

For Alexandra Arteaga traveling on I-10 is a frustrating experience Monday through Saturday. "It gives me a lot of road rage, I often times want to punch them,” Alexandra said. She has to travel from Las Cruces to different parts of El Paso for her job. Drivers who don't move with the flow of traffic, not only slow her down -- "For some reason, slow cars always happen to be on the fast lane which gets very, very frustrating." They raise her stress level. Other drivers share her sentiment.

"I think they need to step on it. I mean, everybody is in a rush, that's why it's called a 'fast lane'. If you're not moving fast, get out of the way,” Eli Mendez, a commuter from Juarez said.

"There's a lot of times where you have to pass on the right but they're going so slow in the left lane and that makes you break the law and that's unfortunate as well,” Matthew Rioux of West El Paso explained.

This creates headaches for motorists and a potentially dangerous situation. "It can cause the possibility of a traffic accident to occur. Not to mention, possible road rage,” Dep. Angelica Becerra of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said.

Not many motorists know that in the Lone Star State, there's a law against driving slowly in the fast lane.

"If traffic is moving faster than you, this statute requires that you move to the right hand lane,” Dereck Wyatt said. Dereck Wyatt is an El Paso attorney who has handled thousands of traffic citations during his career. "From what I've seen, people all the time go in the left hand lane and they go too slow and they're impeding traffic."

The attorney cites a long time statute 545.05, section b - "If you are out on the highway and you are by yourself, you can do whatever you want to do!” he exclaimed, "But as soon as there is traffic on the highway and that traffic is going faster than you, you have to move over."

But it's a law that hasn't been enforced. "If you're going to be traveling below the speed limit, we do recommend that you do move out of the left lane,” Det. Mike Baranyay, a Spokesman for the El Paso Police Department told NewsChannel 9.

However, if you're moving at the legal minimum speed of 45 miles an hour on parts of I-10 and you're in the left lane -- you won't receive a ticket.

"This statute right here, for some reason, is not cited a lot in the court cases,” Wyatt explained.

It's not only El Paso -- Wyatt said he has purged Texas records and could not find any court cases within the state citing this statute. "It's just not cited a lot by the courts and maybe that's because there are thousands and thousands of these statutes and nobody gave a seminar on it."

But that's changing -- the Department of Public Safety is now enforcing the law in parts of Harris County. El Paso just has to follow suit.

"I'm surprised the police don't use it, because police a lot of times like to do what's called a pre-text stop. They're looking for a reason to pull people over and this would be a fantastic reason,” Wyatt explained.

Enforcing the statute will not only alleviate congestion on I-10.

"Theoretically it's considered the fast lane. But sometimes it's not as fast as I would want it to be," Arteaga said. For drivers like Alexandra -- it will also keep the roads safe.

Locally, DPS explains they have been enforcing this statute in the rural areas in El Paso County … they could not release an exact figure as to how many citations they've handed out.


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