So, the family and I were driving home to Ypsi from Saginaw tonight, and we got lit up by the cops. I pulled over, chucked my phone to the side (since it was sitting on my knee playing Pandora), rolled down the window, and killed the engine.
The officer asked for license, registration, proof of insurance. I fished out the license with no problem, then went rummaging for the other stuff. It was the wife’s car, so I had to dig a bit. She told me to look in another other compartment, not the glovebox, as the officer informed me that we were pulled over for driving in the left lane. He said that we were supposed to be in the right hand lane unless passing a car. (At 10 pm on a Saturday night, with no other cars within a mile of us…) I was immediately ready to question him on that, since I had looked up “passing lane” laws last year, and was sure I had read that it didn’t apply to two lane highways, only to roads of three or more lanes. I decided to not mention it, as I was already having problems finding the paperwork, and was nervous enough. His “where you going / where you coming from / whose car is this” patter didn’t help my concentration.
Eventually, I found the insurance paperwork and tried to pass it over to him. He just shone his flashlight on it, said “That’s good enough, hang on a minute”, and walked off to run my license. I realized I hadn’t even found the registration, so I took that as a good sign. I was impressed the dog hadn’t made a sound either, since he was in the back seat with the girls, uncrated. He came back a minute later, carrying on a conversation with someone else, handed me back my license, advised me again to stay in the right lane, and sent us on our way.
I spent much of the rest of the drive home alternating between fussing and fuming about how he was totally wrong, and being happy he didn’t ding me for being a tick over the speed limit or for not having all my papers at the ready upon demand. We made it home without further incident, and I quickly flung open my laptop, Googling for left lane laws in Michigan.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I was WRONG! http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?mcl-257-634 states that the left “passing lane” restriction doesn’t apply to roads that are three lanes wider or more, meaning the left lane on a two lane highway is the fabled “passing lane”, and should be empty if you’re not actually passing someone. I don’t understand how I got that wrong. I had always thought – and even had “confirmed” – that the “passing lane” only applied to 3+ lane highways.
So: Office Hart, of the whichever-agency-has-jurisdiction-north-of-mile-70-on-US-23 Department, my apologies for casting aspersions on your comprehension of the law. I would also like to thank you for not sticking me with a ticket for this, since the law states that what I did was a civil infraction, and probably would have cost me $100 on a bad night.