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Increasing fine for left lane slowpokes gets quick traction

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Taber Andrew Bain
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A bill allowing police to charge a bigger fine for people driving slow in the left lane of interstates and other multilane highways is one of the first to be taken up at the South Carolina Statehouse in 2023.

A Senate subcommittee Tuesday approved increasing the fine from $25 to up to $100 and giving most of the increased amount to the state Highway Patrol. The full Senate Transportation Committee is scheduled to take up the bill Wednesday.

Lawmakers passed the so-called “slowpoke" bill in 2021. Over roughly a year, state troopers wrote nearly 500 tickets. It requires drivers in the left lane to move over if a car comes up behind them and the right lane is clear.

The fine is not a criminal penalty and doesn't get reported to a driving record.

The senators on the subcommittee said they noticed compliance when the law was first passed, but slower drivers have started to creep back into the left lane, necessitating a tougher penalty.

“Would the committee entertain a motion to make this retroactive — to this morning — maybe a blue Camry?” joked Republican state Sen. Sean Bennett who has about a 95 mile (153 kilometer) commute from Summerville to the Statehouse on Interstate 26.

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This story corrects attribution of the final quote to state Sen. Sean Bennett.