Yes, Driving Too Slowly in the Fast Lane in Montana is Illegal
If you've had your driver's license longer than a week, you've certainly experienced the frustration of being stuck behind a slow driver on a Montana highway. Perhaps it was on a twisty, two-lane where no-passing zones prevent you from getting around the slow driver. Maybe it was a motorhome slowly chugging up a mountain pass for the last 5 miles, or you've gotten stuck behind a farmer moving a tractor or other implements down the road.
It's frustrating, for sure. But is driving too slow a crime?
Montana Highway Patrol addressed the problem.
In the 2018 video (seen above), Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Noah Pesola breaks down the law regarding slow-moving vehicles, which he says is one of the most common questions the department receives. He cites Montana Code 61-8-311, which states,
Minimum speed regulations. (1) A person may not drive a motor vehicle at a speed slow enough to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.
The statute also provides guidance on what the slow-moving vehicle is required to do.
On a two-lane highway where passing is unsafe because of oncoming traffic or other conditions, the operator of a slow-moving vehicle behind which four or more vehicles are formed in line shall turn off the roadway at the nearest area where a sufficient and safe turnout exists in order to permit the vehicles following it to proceed.
To reiterate... Slow-moving vehicles that have four or more vehicles behind them are required to pull over at the nearest, safe pull-off to let traffic pass.
What about slow movers on the interstate?
It's common courtesy to stay out of the "fast lane" on the interstate if you're not actually driving fast, but is illegal to drive under the speed limit in the left lane? The law is a little murkier when it comes to freeway traffic. Montana Code 61-9-415 generally refers to slow-moving vehicles as horse-drawn buggies, construction equipment (like graders, backhoes, etc), and farm equipment, which ARE required to pull as far to the right as possible - even onto the shoulder if safe to do so. Section (4) of the code states,
On an interstate highway or on any other four-lane highway, a slow-moving vehicle, subject to the requirements of this section, must be driven in the right lane as far to the right as possible, including the shoulder of the highway.
In his video, MHP Trooper Pesola noted that it is up to the officers' discretion when it comes to issuing a citing for vehicles that refuse to pull over to let other drivers pass, adding that they must weigh the safety risks of initiating a traffic stop vs. letting the slow driver go. Regardless of the laws... if you want to drive slow, for the love of God, please stay in the right-hand lane on the interstate. And if you're jamming up traffic on a two-lane PULLOVER. Literally, everyone thanks you.