Driving too slow can indeed get you a ticket
Q. While driving to the Hollywood Bowl last night, a passenger with me described how she had been required to take a driving course offered by AAA because of a driving infraction, and during that program she was told something that I took strong disagreement with. She was driving on a street with the posted speed at 45 mph, yet only going 38. Her instructor made sure to tell her that she was doing something wrong, that “a driver is required to drive at the posted speed limit” and can be “cited by the police for not doing so.” Incredulous, I wanted to get clarification. I asked my passenger, “If you had wanted to drive at 35 mph because you felt unsafe driving at 45 mph, you would not be allowed to do so?” She had asked a similar question and was told that she could get a ticket for doing so. What do you know about this policy, and can you help me clear up this question?
– Les Jenison, Laguna Beach
A. Honk hates to go vague on you, Les, but he must.
Bottom line: It’s up to each cop to make such calls.
Honk reached out to Duane Graham, an officer and spokesman for the California Highway Patrol out of the Westminster headquarters, figuring that agency has a lot of experience on both streets and freeways.
He pointed out there is a state law that says motorists can’t drive so slow as to back up traffic unless there is a good reason – such as traveling along a grade or getting pelted by rain. And they can’t put others at risk, either.
“If a person is traveling a speed which is causing a hazard, whether slow or fast, taking weather and conditions into consideration, they can be cited,” Graham told Honk.
Another state law says slow-moving drivers should stay in the right lane as much as practical.
Officer Graham said if he cited someone for going too slow, it would be based on his concern for the safety of the driver or others.
Q. Dear Honk: About 30 years ago, requiring a third brake light became law. I see many pickup trucks with bed caps. They cover the third brake light, which is usually above the rear window before of the start of the bed. How is this legal?
– Gary Steinberg, Laguna Hills
A. Officer Graham, because Honk has you on the phone already, want to help tackle this one, too?
Federal laws require passenger vehicles to have that third brake light; they went into effect in two phases, in 1986 and in 1994.
Graham said that a state law requires that such federally required lighting is functioning and visible: “As to whether or not an officer will cite you for violating this would depend on the officer’s discretion.”
Honkin’ fact: Want to ask questions or weigh in about the future of Orange County’s freeways, buses, rail lines, autonomous vehicles or carpool lanes?
You can during the Orange County Transportation Authority’s first Telephone Town Hall on Wednesday, Sept 12. There will be two sessions, one at 5:30 p.m. for north county, and at 7 p.m. for south county. The dividing line is the 55 Freeway, although Honk was told you actually can join either.
Dial in at 888-400-1932 to listen; you will be able to press a button to get to a screener who can relay your question or thought to OCTA officials. The intro to sow the groundwork is supposed to be be no longer than 10 minutes. With politicians in the room, Honk wouldn’t wager the Honkmobile on it, though.
To ask Honk questions, reach him at email@example.com. He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online: ocregister.com/tag/honk.