No Passing Zones – A Technicality to Beat Your Ticket

Written by Gregory Monte.

What the Law Says

Pennsylvania is one of the few states which allows motorists to cross a double yellow line in order to pass a slower moving vehicle.  I proved this in a blog post back in June: Can You Cross a Double Yellow Line to Pass a Slow-Moving Vehicle?

The only restriction would be in a posted no passing zone – and this is where the technicality comes in to play.  Pennsylvania Title 67, Chapter 212.112 specifies how the state must notify motorists when passing is restricted.

The No Passing Zone Pennant (W14-3) is the primary sign to identify the beginning of a no-passing zone on a two-lane highway and shall be installed on the left side of the road.”

“Shall be” means it is a requirement.  Without this sign on the left, the no passing zone cannot be enforced.

Contrast this with the option of using related signs:

  • “The Do Not Pass Sign (R4-1) may be installed on the right side of the roadway to supplement the No Passing Zone Pennant Sign (W14-3).”
  • “The Pass With Care Sign (R4-2) may be installed at the end of the no-passing zone.”

Also keep in mind that Title 75 Section 3307 specifically requires signs to let motorists know that they are traveling on one of these restrictive areas of the highway:

“Signs shall be placed to indicate the beginning and end of each no-passing zone.”

Case Law to Support This Technicality

As usual, I like to find case law to support my personal interpretation of motor vehicle statutes.  As far back as 1979 the PA Court of Common Pleas (Commonwealth v. Yorty, 11 Pa. D. & C. 3d 206)  makes clear that a sign is necessary:

“Defendant did, however, pass in an area marked as a no passing zone by yellow hatch marks on the roadway. Nonetheless, passing in a no passing zone is a violation only when both signs and highway markings are in place … In the instant case, there were no signs in place … Given these circumstances, we must find defendant not guilty.”

In 1988 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (Cervone v. Reading, 538 A. 2d 16) agreed with the appellate judge’s instruction to the jury that said the following:

“Now we have also had testimony that there was a double yellow line on the highway there. And there is sometimes some confusion over the meaning of a double yellow line. The regulations of the Department of Transportation say that a double yellow line is intended to indicate that that’s a place where it’s not safe to pass. But the cases have said that it’s not a violation of the statute.”

Finally, in 1995 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (Com. v. Whitmyer, 668 A. 2d 1113) hints at the need for signs.  In this instance, Whitmyer legally passed a vehicle on the left because the area in question was not specifically posted as not passing. 

“This determination was based on the fact that Appellee did not fail to yield to any oncoming vehicle when he entered the highway nor did he pass the vehicle in front of him in a posted no passing zone.

References to the Actual Statutes

Passing on the left is illegal in certain situations as specified below.  Passing in all other areas, even though a double yellow line is present, is permitted.

3306.  Limitations on driving on left side of roadway.

(a)  General rule.–No vehicle shall be driven on the left side of the roadway under any of the following conditions:

(1)  When approaching or upon the crest of a grade or a curve in the highway where the driver’s view is obstructed within such distance as to create a hazard in the event another vehicle might approach from the opposite direction.

(2)  When approaching within 100 feet of or traversing any intersection or railroad grade crossing, unless otherwise indicated by official traffic-control devices.

(3)  When the view is obstructed upon approaching within 100 feet of any bridge, viaduct or tunnel.

3307.  No-passing zones.

(a)  Establishment and marking.–The department and local authorities may determine those portions of any highway under their respective jurisdictions where overtaking and passing or driving on the left side of the roadway would be especially hazardous and shall by appropriate signs or markings on the roadway indicate the beginning and end of such zones and when the signs or markings are in place and clearly visible to an ordinarily observant person every driver of a vehicle shall obey the directions of the signs or markings. Signs shall be placed to indicate the beginning and end of each no-passing zone.

(b)  Compliance by drivers.–Where signs and markings are in place to define a no-passing zone as set forth in subsection (a), no driver shall at any time drive on the left side of the roadway within the no-passing zone or on the left side of any pavement striping designed to mark a no-passing zone throughout its length.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s