SHERIFF'S CORNER: Proper passing of vehicles on the road

"You mean I cannot exceed the speed limit to pass another vehicle? I thought there was a cushion of a few extra miles per hour to pass a vehicle."

I have heard this question or explanation come from drivers who been pulled over for speeding. For clarification, you can never exceed (or go faster) than the posted speed limit. If the speed limit is 55 mph, meaning when passing another vehicle, you cannot go faster than 55 mph to pass them.

When approaching a vehicle that is stopped or turning right, you cannot use the shoulder to pass. You must remain on the road at all times.

There has also been some confusion on the north junction of US-10 and M-37, near the DNR station. When traveling southbound (heading toward Baldwin) the far right lane is a turning lane only. When traveling northbound, the far right lane is a passing lane -- meaning you can pass on the right when a vehicle is turning left.

Recently, this was a subject of debate, because a right-turn-only arrow was painted on the roadway. It was determined by MDOT that this is a passing lane and not only for turning right. The painted arrow has been removed.

Specific lanes for passing

There are three two-lane passing zones designated for passing in Lake County. One is located on US-10 in Sweetwater Township, one on US-10 near Chase and one on M-37 near Wolf Lake. The thing to remember is that even though they are meant for passing, if there are no vehicles to pass, you must travel on the far right lane. This is similar to travelling on the freeway, as in US-131.

Move-over law

A new law that recently went into effect defines what a driver must do when approaching an emergency or service vehicle with emergency or flashing lights activated.

The new law mandates that motorists slow by 10 mph below the posted speed limit and, if possible, move over a lane when passing a police or emergency vehicle on the side of the road.

This is the definition of what an emergency vehicle or service vehicle is: police vehicle, fire apparatus, ambulance, rescue vehicle, wrecker or tow truck, road service vehicle, a state department of transportation vehicle (MDOT), a local authority vehicle (road commission, forest service, DPW, or DNR vehicle), a contractor to provide road maintenance solid waste hauler, transporting unit or solid waste collection vehicle, a public telephone or a cable or video provider utilty vehicle.

This information is provided to you for clarification on specific laws, and not legal advice. This is not to be construed as a personal opinion, agreement or disagreement of any specific law.

If you have any questions on any specific topic, you can always email me your questions to

As always, it is a honor serving and working for all of you who live, visit and work in Lake County. Working together, we can make a difference.