COLUMBIA, S.C. — Some of the most powerful lawmakers in South Carolina are backing a proposal to allow officers to pull over people who drive too slowly in the left lane of major roads.
Many lawmakers find their way to Columbia on interstates that only have two lanes in each direction and supporters of the bill said something needs to be done to encourage anyone not passing another vehicle to get out of the left lane.
“Unfortunately, in South Carolina, people tend to linger in the left lane,” said House Majority Leader Gary Simrill.
The Republican from Rock Hill heads south about 70 miles to the Statehouse on Interstate 77, which is mostly two lanes in each direction.
“Traffic is impeded by those that linger in the left lane,” Simrill said.
Every Southeastern state except North Carolina and South Carolina have these types of laws, Senate President Harvey Peeler said.
“If you go Interstate 85, nine times out of 10 the car that is in the left lane has a North Carolina tag on it,” the Republican from Gaffney said about the highway through his hometown.
The bills in the House and Senate differ in the details. The House version would have a fine of $200 and add two points to an offender’s driver’s license, the same penalty for speeding less than 10 mph over the speed limit.
The Senate version would only have a fine of $100.
The Senate Transportation Committee sent their bill to the Senate floor Wednesday. Peeler spoke for less than a minute before the committee voted unanimously.
“No pun intended, but I ask the committee pass this bill,” Peeler said.
Peeler said he thinks troopers would be more likely to enforce a new law if it didn’t add two points to driver’s licenses. A license is suspended after 12 points.
“It’s not punitive. We just want to encourage people to drive in the right lane and pass in the left lane,” Peeler said.
The House bill has not been taken up in committee. Simrill said he would consider a version that did not add points to a driver’s license.
“The educational component is what’s most important,” Simrill said.
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