Unlawful Passing


Jeff asked: Had an incident today where we were passed on a downhill double yellow line by a truck. Unfortunately for me the driver of the truck lived at the bottom of the hill and came over directly in front of me to turn into his driveway. He didn’t signal, and didn’t pass our entire group before coming over. I ended up hitting the back of his truck and FHP’s response was that since I hit him from behind it was my fault and they refused to cite him. Absolutely nothing I could have done to avoid hitting him as he didn’t provide sufficient clearance when he passed. What does the law require of vehicles when passing cyclists or other vehicles?


These are the applicable laws for this situation.

s. 316.083 – Overtaking and Passing a Vehicle

(1)  The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall … pass to the left thereof at a safe distance, and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle … The driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle … must pass the bicycle … at a safe distance of not less than 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicycle.

s. 316.085 – Limitations on Overtaking, Passing, Changing Lanes and Changing Course

(2) No vehicle shall be driven from a direct course … until the driver has determined that the vehicle is not being approached or passed by any other vehicle in the lane or on the side to which the driver desires to move and that move can be completely made with safety and without interfering with the safe operation of any vehicle approaching from the same direction.

s. 316.155 – When Signal Required

No person may turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a highway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety…

I recommend taking this information and statements from witnesses to the local FHP office and asking them to pursue it further.

4 Comments on “Unlawful Passing

  1. I think this one applies the most:

    Florida Statutes Section 316.130(15)
    “Notwithstanding other provisions of this chapter, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle …”

  2. Jeff,

    Here is more information that may help your case with the FHP.

    JOE ALFORD, Appellant,

    “Hence, the driver of the rear vehicle that collides with the back of the lead vehicle is presumed negligent unless the rear driver presents evidence that fairly and reasonably tends to show that the presumption is misplaced. Clampitt; Eppler; Gulle ; Wright v. Ring Power Corp., 834 So. 2d 329 (Fla. 5th DCA), review denied, 846 So. 2d 1148 (Fla. 2003); Jefferies.
    There are three general categories of affirmative explanations that may effectively rebut the presumption of negligence: 1) an abrupt and arbitrary stop in a place where it could not reasonably be expected or an unexpected change of lanes, see Clampitt; Eppler; Conda v. Plain, 222 So. 2d 417 (Fla. 1969); Wright; Antokal v. Llana, 763 So. 2d 1067 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999), review denied, 767 So. 2d 458 (Fla. 2000); McCloud v. Swanson, 681 So. 2d 898, (Fla. 4th DCA 1996); Liriano v. Gonzalez, 605 So. 2d 575 (Fla. 3d DCA 1992); Tozier v. Jarvis, 469 So. 2d 884 (Fla. 4th DCA 1985); 2) a mechanical failure, i.e., sudden brake failure, that causes the rear driver to collide with
    entered by the trial court based on worker’s compensation immunity. 5
    the lead driver, see Murray v. Schreiner, 825 So. 2d 527 (Fla. 2d DCA 2002); Antokal; Liriano; Tozier; and 3) the lead vehicle is illegally and, therefore, unexpectedly stopped. Antokal; Liriano; Tozier. In these instances, the purpose for the presumption is not served because the driver of the lead vehicle was a contributing cause of the collision or the driver of the rear vehicle was rendered incapable due to mechanical failure to prevent the collision and, therefore, is not negligent. “

  3. When a passing driver crowds a motorcyclist and appears to be returning to or entering the same lane without establishing sufficient separation distance (“safely clear”, in the wording of s. 316.083), it’s an immediate signal that the driver may intend to turn off the roadway just ahead at a driveway or crossroad, even if the driver gives no turn signal. A MC technique for evasive action in this situation is to ease off the throttle and begin moving to the side of the lane opposite that toward which the driver is moving and might turn from.

    For example, if the driver has passed closely on the left, begins cutting in front and a driveway or other side connection is just ahead on the right, immediately begin moving toward the left edge of the lane. From this position the motorcyclist usually has room to safely swerve past the turning driver on the left.

    This movement is practical on a motorcycle because the motorcyclist is ordinarily already in a lane-centered position, or even a little left of center. Also, the motorcyclist is ordinarily traveling at motor vehicle speeds, so the passing motorist must pass farther in advance in order to have the distance to decelerate as necessary to make the turn (or, may determine that the very slight time saving does not justify taking the risk of this maneuver in the first place, and stay behind the motorcyclist).

    A cyclist who keeps to the right half of the lane, even on a downgrade, must move a greater lateral distance to the left to swerve past a motorist who begins turning off the roadway into a driveway directly in front of the cyclist. Unless the cyclist noticed the overtaking motorcyclist (e.g., with a mirror), anticipated the possible conflict ahead and began scrubbing speed (without waiting for a turn signal from motorist), it often isn’t practical to swerve around the motorist on the left, and even the “quick turn” to the right taught in some courses may not be practical.

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