By Jedidiah McKeehan

So, you may or may not know, but as of 2016 there is a statute on the books in Tennessee that punishes slow drivers.  So, warn those slow drivers in your life to speed up!

Pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-8-204, on interstates or highways when there are three or more lanes in each direction, a person shall not operate a vehicle in the passing lane (the farthest left lane), except when overtaking or passing a vehicle that is in a nonpassing lane.  This law’s actual name is, “Slow poke law.”

So practically, what does this law mean?  What is it designed to do?

I would assume that most people have experienced this at least once in their life.  They are driving in the left hand lane, come up on someone driving slowly, wait patiently behind them for them to move over so you can pass them because you are traveling faster, and they just refuse to do so.  This forces you to either just stay behind them and travel slower, or to move to the middle or right hand lane and pass them.

The intent of the law seems to be to address the above situation.  To keep slow drivers from hanging out in the far left lane, forcing faster drivers to move in to the middle lane (which is not the preferred method of passing) to pass them.

I do not know how often law enforcement officers are spending their valuable time charging people with committing this crime, but doing the above is, in fact, a crime.  It is a Class C misdemeanor, but punishable by a $50.00 fine only.

Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.