Legal Consequences of Lane Splitting/Filtering?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by duncanmac, Dec 25, 2012.

  1. duncanmac

    duncanmac Been here awhile

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    Next year commencing late July I am intending to ride around the USA, starting and finishing in Portland, Oregon. In reading up on the road rules in the many states I will be passing through, it is evident that lane splitting/filtering is not legal in many of them. In others, the statute seems to be silent on the matter.

    I differentiate between lane splitting and filtering. The former is high speed and often dangerous, while filtering is low speed between cagers that are moving very slowly or stopped. Filtering is something I do 98% of the time; lane splitting very rarely. Query whether the traffic enforcers draw any distinction between the two?

    In any event, it is inevitable that on my trip I will encounter situations where I want/need to filter. My question to inmates is: If Mr Plod the policeman pulls me over for the heinous crime of filtering, what are the likely, possible or probable consequences? Especially when he (or she) sees my Australian license and address.

    Any experiences you can share?

    Thanks and regards.
    #1
  2. larryboy

    larryboy Chopper Rider

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    It's only not-illegal in California.

    People feel very entitled in the USA, expect to have a door opened on ya in the rest of the states.

    I'll split/filter in hot as hell states like Nevada and Arizona, if there isn't a good reason for it I don't do it outside of California where drivers are used to it.
    #2
  3. catweasel67

    catweasel67 Honda XRV 750 RD04

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    I can only relate what happened when I got pulled, on my Austrian plated bike with a UK driving licence, for speeding. I was put in the patrol car, driven to an ATM and made to pay an "on the spot fine".

    As for whitelining, I did it in NYC with no problems, but when I hit a big traffic jam leading up to the Hoover Dam (so not in a city) I took my lead from other bikers and decided not to.

    I stayed off the interstates for the most part, and encountered very few occasions when I felt that whitelining would have been quicker.
    #3
  4. toy4fun

    toy4fun GET out of the way

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    The legal folks can tell that side. What you really need to be concerned with is how either act can get people angry which just drives them crazy enough to hurt you.
    #4
  5. markjenn

    markjenn Long timer

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    I'm sure this thread will dissolve into political and legal hair-splitting, but my practical advice is no matter what you call it or what the speed, do it ONLY in CA.

    In all other states you're going to be running a huge risk of a ticket and if the cops see you doing this, they're not going to look the other way. Car/truck drivers, are going to be, at best, surprised about you doing this with the attendant safety implications. In some cases, they're going to be downright hostile and belligerent.

    It's just not a good idea anyplace but CA. It's just not something that is done over here (except CA).

    - Mark
    #5
  6. JRP

    JRP Old guy

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    The irony is very strong in this post :rofl
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  7. duck

    duck Banned

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    Often dangerous? Not really. It is only as dangerous as the rider makes it.

    Personally, I only split in CA. And even in CA you can get a ticket for it if a LEO doesn't think you're doing it "in a safe and prudent manner."

    http://www.chp.ca.gov/html/answers.html
    #7
  8. Jim Moore

    Jim Moore Long timer

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    You're good-to-go in California. Other places you might have some trouble from the man, or from irate motorists. I do it occasionally here in Florida, especially if the traffic is stopped dead. If you get pulled over you can probably talk your way out of it if you start with "Cheers, mate! Beautiful country you have here. What's that? Illegal?! Sorry, mate, I had no idea. What? Yes, of course I know Crocodile Dundee. We went to school together back in Billabong." Etc.
    #8
  9. cbolling

    cbolling Here...Hold my Beer.

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    :rofl
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  10. LuciferMutt

    LuciferMutt Rides slow bike slow

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    I'd be FAR less concerned with the legality of it than if it is socially accepted where you are doing it.

    You will quickly learn that the USA has a serious problem with a "me first" and "it's all about ME" entitlement attitude. This translates into some dangerous behavior on the road if a driver even feels they have been "slighted" or "taken advantage of."

    California is one of the very few places where the general population will NOT feel slighted by filtering, as you define it. Trying that almost anywhere else in the US is a very dangerous proposition, not because of law enforcement, but because of selfish drivers who don't want YOU to be first and will literally use their vehicles as weapons against you. At the very least you will the target of some unpleasant discourse.

    In short, I strongly reccomend avoiding filtering or splitting anywhere you don't regularly see other motorcyclists doing it.

    I've filtered to get out of stopped traffic due to an accident on the interstate only once, and just for about a mile. You can probably get away with that most places, but be extremely careful, and don't do it unless traffic is COMPLETELY stopped.
    #10
  11. duck

    duck Banned

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    What's with all of the "Americans are all self-entitled assholes on the highway" crap? I live/drive/ride on the west coast and find that other road users are, for the most part, quite polite. Don't impose your own asshole-ness on others.

    The one thing you need to be aware of when riding in the US is that many drivers/riders consider turn signals "optional" - unlike a lot of other countries where you might actually get a ticket for not using them.
    #11
  12. farmerstu

    farmerstu Been here awhile

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    if you're coming to the U.S. to see the country on a motorcycle,and you feel that traffic is so bad you will need to split/filter you are going to the wrong spots. if you are in heavy traffic at a tourist spot like Yellowstone and filter, it's not helping traffic flow, it's just cutting in line.
    enjoy the trip!
    #12
  13. abnslr

    abnslr rides a motorcycle

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    "Americans are all..." anything is an overstatement, but the risk of vehicular assault by road ragers that's being discussed here is legitimate, in some places at least. Living in the DC and northern Virginia area I saw quite a bit of the "me first at all costs" driving described above, and I'm sure that's not the only place it happens.
    #13
  14. duck

    duck Banned

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    That's why I stated that I am on the west coast. I understand that everybody on the east coast is a dickhead. (Just kidding.)
    #14
  15. Coastalcop

    Coastalcop Been here awhile

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    While there is considerable debate in Texas regarding lane splitting (I is not specifically allowed or prohibited, and while you can have two "lines" of traffic within a "lane" and be ticketed for failing to "maintain line or lane" the debate continues with county attorneys and cops throughout the state as a subject for fireside chats)

    To approach Ferrys in the state it is generally ok, as on a bike you will be asked to wait at the front until the ferry is full and then shoehorned into the squeezable spaces in back. locals know this and dont get bent out of shape.

    Taking the shoulder in stopped traffic to get to an exit is generally ok too, just remember like anywhere else, the driver is probably texting while listening to the radio and putting on HIS eyeliner and could decide to pull out too.

    Use a fair degree of common sense and a heavy friendly accent if stopped and you should be just fine, not fined.
    #15
  16. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

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    Seriously? I have not heard of that is many many years! What state were you in at the time?

    Jim :brow
    #16
  17. larryboy

    larryboy Chopper Rider

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    Ever been in Vegas or Phoenix in the summer? You'll die if you just sit in traffic, it's expected but illegal, filter/split. :deal
    #17
  18. Gummee!

    Gummee! That's MR. Toothless

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    I'll add to that lane sharing in the DC area IS do-able, but you have to be a lot more careful. Johnny Law don't like it so its more 'go a few cars and hit a gap' than 'ride up the middle CA-style.' Repeat the 'ride a few cars and hit a gap' as needed.

    In the year I was commuting that way from outside Manasshole to Rockville I had 3 'incidents.' All with 'locals.' Lots and lots of people from other places/countries in the DC area so they don't blink an eye. 'Locals' are another story.

    DC is an interesting place to drive. Lots of ambition. Lots of 'I'm gonna get ahead of you even if I have to cut you off to do it!' kinda driving. What's really sad about that is EVERY swinging richard out there is stuck in the same effing traffic you are and they're not getting anywhere much quicker. :nah

    Thank doG I don't have to live with that daily.

    Oh, and MCs are allowed in the HOV lanes.

    M
    #18
  19. hippiebrian

    hippiebrian Long timer

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    The official law in Ca. is no more than 5 mph over traffic speed and no faster than 30 mph (not that any of that is enforced unless there's a wreck).
    #19
  20. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

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    Be careful and when/if you get pulled over just be jovial and nice. You will likely be let go with a warning due to that funny accent of yours.
    #20