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Exceeding The Speed Limit In Order To Pass A Slower Vehicle

Posted by William Young | Jun 07, 2019 | 0 Comments

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Can I Exceed The Speed Limit When Passing A Slower Vehicle?

I recently received a question on this subject and thought it was worth a blog post. The driver had been cited for speeding due to driving faster than the posted speed limit while he was passing another vehicle. He explained that he was under the impression that the law "allotted" drivers 15 mph over the speed limit while passing. On a basic level he was correct, however, the circumstances in which you can drive 15 mph over the speed limit are much more complex than people realize.

Idaho Code 49-654 subsection (2)(b) explains:

"Subject to all other applicable motor vehicles laws, a driver of a passenger car, motorcycle or pickup truck, not towing any other vehicle, may exceed the posted speed limit by up to fifteen (15) miles per hour while passing another vehicle traveling at less than the posted speed limit, in order to safely pass the vehicle. The overtaking vehicle shall return to the right-hand lane and reduce speed to the posted speed limit as soon as practicable. This paragraph shall be applicable only to passing on the left upon roadways divided into two (2) lanes providing only one (1) lane of traffic in each direction and where the posted speed limit is fifty-five (55) miles per hour or greater. This paragraph shall not be applicable in construction zones."

While this seems straight forward, its not:

  1. You must be in a vehicle that is not towing anything
  2. You must be on a 2 lane highway; one lane going each direction
  3. The posted speed limit must be 55 mph or greater
  4. You can not be in a construction zone
  5. The vehicle you are passing must be traveling at less than the posted speed limit (if the other vehicle is at or above the posted speed limit this rule does not apply)
  6. Driving faster than the posted speed limit must be required in order to safely pass the vehicle (if you can safely pass the other vehicle without exceeding the speed limit then this rule will not apply)
  7. You must reduce speed as soon as practicable (most of the time this means immediately; keep in mind that if the other vehicle is traveling under the speed limit there is no risk that they will catch or gain on you when you slow to the posted speed limit)
  8. You can only exceed the speed limit if you comply with all other posted laws

There is a lot to unpack here and many people receive citations because they think that you automatically get to exceed the speed limit whenever you pass. Now you know, you don't!

About the Author

William Young

Idaho Criminal Defense and Civil Litigation Attorney. Although I do a little bit of everything in my practice, I focus primarily on Criminal Defense and Civil Litigation. I am licensed to practice, and have a record of success, in both state and federal court.

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