Everyone is familiar with speed limits and the offense of driving faster than the posted speed limit, but is there an offense for driving too slowly? If so, what is the minimum speed limit on the roadway?
Kansas does seem to criminalize driving too slowly in KSA 8-1561. This statute states that, “no person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.” While this does not seem to put a number on a minimum speed, it does allow officers some discretion on how slow is too slow depending on the roadway and environmental conditions. This statute also allows the Secretary of Transportation to set a permanent minimum speed on any particular roadway if necessary.
While the language of this statute seems clear, this statute could provide difficulty for prosecutors without an exact minimum speed. Since discretion seems to be part of this statute, a defense could be provided depending on a number of factors, including: weather, road conditions, vehicle conditions, etc. Evidence of any of these factors could make this particular statute difficult to get a conviction. Also, many judges may find it difficult to find guilt in a case where a driver happens to be driving too slow out of caution. After all, if there are any adverse conditions, don’t we want a driver to take things slow?
For defense attorneys, evidence of any of the above conditions could go a long way in helping a client. The argument that a driver was driving extra slow out of caution would also seem to get sympathy from the judge. A defense attorney would have to be careful, however, if a driver’s automobile was in a condition that was too poor to use on a roadway. In this situation, the judge could hold it against a driver for not having their vehicle road ready.
The legislature seems to want to criminalize driving too slowly, but does not quite seem to know exactly how to do it. As usual, when there seems to be no consensus on an exact answer, the language of the statute is general in nature and the discretion of the judge comes into play.
Until next time, drive safe!