Seven Important Things to Know About New Jersey’s Keep Right, Pass Left Law
We all know New Jersey has a "keep right, pass left" law, but do you know everything about it?
You know the scene: you're motoring along going (slightly over) the posted speed limit when all of a sudden, someone with the sole intent of counting all of the blades of grass growing in the median is moving at a snail's pace in the left lane. You get angry -- perhaps very angry -- before that person either moves over or you zip around them.
We take the "keep right, pass left" law very seriously here in the great Garden State. And while those four words should be very easy for everyone to comprehend, there are some details that we should all know.
What does the actual law say?
A vehicle shall normally be driven in the lane nearest the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway when that lane is available for travel, except when overtaking another vehicle or in preparation for a left turn.
That's just the first part of a much longer text that gets into specifics, however, it basically says that you have to keep right in New Jersey.
Can I drive in the center lane?
Upon a highway which is divided into 3 lanes, a vehicle shall not be driven in the center lane except when overtaking or passing another vehicle or in preparation for a left turn or unless the center lane is at the time allocated for traffic moving in the direction the vehicle is proceeding and is signposted to give notice of that allocation.
So, if you are on the Garden State Parkway or the 42 Freeway and there are three lanes of traffic, you can't dilly dally in the center lane. Get over to the right.
Is it ever legal to pass someone on the right?
The only reference that I could find about legally passing someone on the right in New Jersey is from a law firm's website which says it can only happen, "under conditions permitting such movement in safety." In other words, only to avoid a crash or something along those lines. And even then, you have to stay on the actual road.
How much is a ticket?
A ticket for thinking you own the left lane is in the $100 to $300 neighborhood.
If I get a ticket, how many points is it?
A failure to keep right ticket tacks two points onto your driving record.
I always see people driving in the left lane. Do people actually get tickets for doing that?
You bet. In 2018, over 50,000 drivers in New Jersey got tickets for staying in the left lane, according to NJ.com.
I always see people from Pennsylvania driving in the left lane in New Jersey!
Yeah, well, guess what. Driving in the left lane in Pennsylvania is against the law, too. We just have an attitude about it here in the Garden State.
Please note: this is a very short version of the state's "keep right, pass left" law. There are more details. And I am not a lawyer nor am I a legal scholar. Drive safely, New Jersey.