FILE - Minneapolis traffic

Traffic moving in and out of downtown Minneapolis.

Slow left-lane Minnesota drivers could be pulled over and ticketed $125 for an updated “slowpoke” law that went into effect Aug. 1.

“This law says when practicable, move over and allow vehicles to pass. It’s that simple,” Col. Matt Langer, chief of the Minnesota State Patrol, told MPR News.

Leaders updated the law to keep the left-most lane open. The law states that people “proceeding at a speed that is sufficiently low as to create a traffic hazard” must switch to a right lane when possible.

A slow left-lane driver won’t be pulled over if they’re making room for emergency vehicles, obstructions, or if preparing to exit or turn on the left. Special lanes designated for a specific traffic type don’t count.

Langer said that rule enforcement won’t be as stringent as that of distracted driving, excessive speeding, or other unsafe conditions that can kill.

The main focus for traffic safety law makes it illegal to hold a cellphone while operating a vehicle.

State Patrol office Langer told MPR News that he expects police will prioritize speeding and reckless driving going more than the “slowpoke law.”

“Those are the motorists we’re going to be looking for, that we always are looking for. We’re definitely focused on speeding because speeding is one of the leading contributors to fatal and injury crashes and property damage crashes,” he said. “That person holding up traffic in the left lane can cause problems, can cause frustration, can lead to aggressive driving, but isn’t the contributor toward fatal and injury crashes.”

“It’s not a free-for-all to go as fast as you can,” Gov. Tim Walz said in a news conference. “It’s simply to make sure that the flow of traffic works in the most efficient and safe manner.”

John Harrington, commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, said the law aims to encourage courtesy and reduce unnecessary congestion.

“If you’re passing, pass in the left lane,” Harrington said in a statement. “If you’re done passing, get out of the left lane and get back to the right lane as quickly as possible or as quickly as you can do it safely.”

This law gives no warrant to speed over the posted limit.

“It’s not a free-for-all to go as fast as you can. It’s simply to make sure the flow of traffic works in the most efficient and safe manner,” Walz said.

Staff Writer

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.