You cannot go over the speed limit to pass another vehicle


When it comes to the rules of the road, things can be a bit sketchy and mind boggling. In this discussion, I’d like to hear from experienced drivers on the subject of “overtaking “

The illustration above shows when it is legal to overtake a slower car in front of you, but then there is another rule prohibiting drivers to not exceed the speed limit while overtaking another car, or otherwise risk getting penalized.

Around from where I live, there are plenty back roads with broken yellow lines allowing for overtaking other cars. But I just can’t seem to succeed at passing a slow moving vehicle in front of me without exceeding the speed limit.

Take for example: I’m traveling on a road with a posted speed limit of 45mph. A car in front of me is fluctuating between 35 to 40 mph while simultaneously swerving left and right in its lane. The broken yellow line has a short lifespan and traveling exactly 45mph will not get me passed the car in front of me in time.

So I beg the question: what purpose does this rule serve if you cannot overtake another vehicle and go over the speed limit ?

On the island, one is allowed to exceed the speed limit only when overtaking and must immediately follow the speed limit once they get back in their lane.

I speed when passing. It is safer to minimize your time in the wrong lane.


If there’s plenty of room, no need to exceed the limit. That’s the method I usually use. If you start to pass, then realize you won’t make it unless exceeding the limit, either take the chance of getting a ticket, or slow down and pull in behind & try again. Another complication, it’s pretty common in my experience the driver you are passing will speed up as you begin to pass.


Like I said every state determines their own traffic rules subject to some fed restrictions. In Minnesota you can go up to 10 mph over the speed limit when passing. So you can go 70 in what mostly is 60 on highways. Of course these are the same and safer roads and cars that the limit used to be 65 during the day and 55 at night. 1960s.

Washington state

A person following a vehicle driving at less than the legal maximum speed and desiring to pass such vehicle may exceed the speed limit, on highways having only one lane of traffic in each direction, at only such a speed and for only such a distance as is necessary to complete the pass with a reasonable margin of safety.

So in WA you can’t legally pass a vehicle that is doing the speed limit.


Is that a trick question? Obviously it allows you to legally pass a car going somewhat slower than your specific example.

Regardless, I think that if you pass safely by signaling, not tailgating, and not greatly exceeding the speed limit, most police officers will be lenient in that situation, especially if there are no better passing zones nearby.

1 Like

My “favorite” kind of [rage-inducing] driver is the one doing, say 40-45mph everywhere in a 55, except in the passing zones. Then they suddenly decide that 55-60 is a good idea. You can bet that I will temporarily speed. I don’t even know the specifics of VA law on the matter. But my guess is that unless you’re doing something completely idiotic it’s not going to be a cause for a stop. You know, unless it’s like the end of the month and the quotas are due.

1 Like

My interstate and road experience 10mph over is fine, even 10 mph over people are still passing me in the left lane. Sometimes I hang out in the left lane where 15 to 20 mph over is not unusual.

It’s a question that has been bothering me for years.

I like rules that are sensible and logical. But in this case, when I look into it, I’m left with scratching my head.

The law here in NY is permitting drivers to overtake a slower moving vehicle then making a rule that does not make it safe to overtake a slower moving vehicle.

So when we decide to overtake a slow moving vehicle, we should hope a lenient cop is around or no cop at all.

In other words, it’s a trap.

At nights, we have some drunk drivers on these roads and many times they’re going slower than the posted speed limit and having trouble keeping their cars going straight. I legally pass them all the time using the broken yellow lines but then I end up violating the rules by going over the speed limit to do so safely.

I will chose over the speed limit or under the speed limit depending on the situation.

That is one of times I am not going to pass someone. If they can’t maintain lane discipline I don’t want to be beside them even for a short time. I also don’t want them to run into the back of me if I have to stop for some reason.


You may be looking for those kinds of rules a very long time … lol … Been going on forever. Have you heard the ancient story about Diogenese’s quest to find an honest man? Or for a more recent example, did you read this recent thread here?

Get out of jail free card?

If you choose to drive a car, not much you can do other than grin and bear it. Consistently sensible and logical rules? not gonna happen.

1 Like

In another thread I mentioned how I do 50mph in a 55, RIGHT HAND LANE on interstates and parkways. I rarely ever have to pass anyone else, and most on-rampers can merge in front of me without fearing for their lives.

Post road through Norwalk and Fairfield: 30mph in 35 zones, RIGHT HAND LANE. By the time I arrive at controlled intersections, the red light has turned green. I do get red lights, maybe 1 out of every three.

Many drivers who try to pass me on the four-laner end up stuck in the left lane behind someone waiting to turn left, as I roll leisurely by in the rightmost lane.

Things to ponder…

I am just going to say, if you are going below the speed limit and I have a chance to pass you, then I will pass you…
In most states it is legal to pass a slow moving car as long as the road and traffic allows it…

Google: speed limit when passing a slower car

Just another reason I have never been to your state and hope to never have to… and I am sure some are glad of that too… :rofl:


My wife just got a ticket for exactly that, though she was way over the limit.

I was riding with friends in Alaska. One road we were on was mostly 2 lane, and he consistently drove below the speed limit. A few times I asked him if the engine stalled. But when the road widened to 4 lanes every now and then, he went much faster. Drove me bonkers.

Lol. True. Very true. And may I add: someone behind you decides to pass you only to go slower than you are already going.

I never understand these things.

The only way I can overtake safely on a 2 way road is to exceed the speed limit by a large margin because of upcoming traffic.

So I can see with your wife.

A Chinese cop pulled me over for passing a slow car in front of me on a road which traffic goes in the same direction. I used the left lane to pass the annoying car in front of me then went down a crest where a cop was hiding behind bushes.

This was like 3 years ago.

I admitted that I was speeding and explained myself by telling him the car in front of me was driving me nuts for a long time. For no apparent reason, the car in front of me would brake up ever so often and it was making my day irritable.

He set me free with a gentle warning.

Got traffic school for the speeding ticket in IL. 4 hours class $75,does not go on record. Did not have to try 2nd speeding ticket within a year 8 hour class, not go on record, Third speeding ticket within a year Judges discretion to send you to another 8 hour class not on records so Insurance companies do not know.

Can one go to traffic school online ?