23 Nov 2022

By Paul Rodriguez

In Car Accident

It depends, the rule of thumb when driving is that you do not pass on the right, but in some circumstances, it is perfectly legal to pass on the right in New York.

Some will argue that it is safer for drivers to pass other vehicles on the left because slower drivers expect faster drivers to pass them on that side. The state of New York, like many states, requires vehicles to stay to the right except when passing.

But New York vehicle law also states that:

The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle only under the following conditions:

1. When the vehicle overtaken is making or about to make a left turn

2. Upon a street or highway with unobstructed pavement not occupied by parked vehicles of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving vehicles in each direction

3. Upon a one-way street, or any roadway on which traffic is restricted to one direction of movement, where the roadway is free from obstructions and of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving vehicles.

The law says, “The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle upon the right only under conditions permitting such movement in safety.”

Penalties for Illegally Passing on the Right in New York

Because passing on the right is illegal in many instances, it’s good to review penalties for illegal passing. A conviction for improper passing in New York may be punished by:

  • A fine of up to $150 for a first offense, up to $300 for a second offense within 18 months, and up to $450 for a third offense within 18 months
  • Three points against the individual’s driving record for each violation. Points typically lead to higher car insurance premiums.
  • An additional state surcharge of $88 or $93, depending on whether the ticket was issued in a city or town/village
  • Driver Responsibility Assessment (DRA) fee, which applies for any conviction resulting in six or more points on your driving record within 18 months. The fee is $300 plus $75 for each point over six.

Should I Pass on the Left More Often?

New York’s driver’s manual says, “When you pass other vehicles …, do so with caution and only when necessary. You must not exceed the speed limit to pass another vehicle.”

Here’s how to pass on the left, according to the DMV:

  • If conditions are correct to pass, check your mirrors and signal your lane change.
  • Before you pull into the left lane, look quickly over your left shoulder, through the back side window, to make sure there is no vehicle close behind you in the left lane. Never depend on your mirrors when you prepare to change lanes.
  • When you pass, move completely into the left lane.
  • Before you return to the right lane, signal and look at your interior rear-view mirror to make sure you can see the front bumper of the vehicle you passed.
  • Look quickly over your right shoulder to make sure that you can see at least several feet of pavement between your vehicle and the one you passed.
  • Then return to the right lane.

Do not attempt to pass a vehicle on the left if:

  • Your lane has a solid yellow center line.
  • You cannot safely return to the right lane before you reach a solid yellow center line for the right lane.
  • You cannot safely return to the right lane before any oncoming vehicle comes within 200 feet of you.
  • You approach a curve or the top of a hill on a two-way road and cannot see around or over it.
  • You are within 100 feet of a railroad crossing on a two-way roadway.
  • You are within 100 feet of a bridge, tunnel, or viaduct on a two-way road and your view is obstructed.
  • You will interfere with oncoming traffic.

Talk to a Seasoned Car Accident Lawyer in Queens, NY

Passing other vehicles in traffic is a risk, regardless of how safety-minded a driver is when attempting to pass. In October 2022 alone, NYPD recorded 368 instances of passing too closely and 426 instances of improper passing or improper lane changes, each of which led to a collision that caused injury or death.

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a car accident in Queens, NY caused by someone who was passing improperly, we urge you to contact a Queens car accident lawyer at The Tadchiev Law Firm. If your injuries are significant, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Our legal team can investigate the circumstances of the accident, and if someone else was at fault, hold them accountable.

The Tadchiev Law Firm, P.C., is committed to seeking maximum compensation for people who have been hurt in serious car accidents. Contact us today for a free case review and to answer any questions you have. We charge no fees unless we recover compensation for you.