Is It Legal or Illegal to Pass a Police Officer While Driving on the Road?

Allow a Florida State Trooper to answer the age-old question.

Here’s a scenario that happens all too often: it’s early in the morning and you’ve left a bit late for work. You’re traveling down the highway, speedometer gracing the 55-miles-per-hour mark—you’re right at the speed limit. You soon approach a police cruiser in the right lane and he’s driving slightly under the speed limit. The left lane is clear, but is it legal or illegal to pass a police officer in a squad car?

Recently, Florida State Trooper Steve Montiero spoke with a local news station on this exact conundrum, and he gave a begrudgingly contingent green light to motorists. But, there’s a catch.

According to Officer Montiero, when you pass a police officer they immediately perform a visual assessment of your vehicle and your behavior as a driver to ensure the most basic rules of the road are being followed. A load of questions might dance in your head over the above scenario: is your inspection still valid? Is your taillight out? What if you forgot to signal?

“But if that vehicle is traveling under the posted speed limit, why wouldn’t you be able to pass the patrol car?” asked Officer Montiero rhetorically. “I’m not saying this is the brightest idea; however, I am saying it’s OK to do it—if done legally.”

Realistically, the officer might just have a fatal flaw we call humanism. Perhaps the officer is traveling below the speed limit for a specific reason, or maybe he just hadn’t noticed the stretch of road transitioning from 45 mph to 55 mph.

The one thing you certainly don’t want to do is be oblivious and give yourself away if you’re doing something illegal, of course. Traveling well above the posted speed limit and driving aggressively is like “screaming ‘pull me over,'” Officer Montiero reiterated.

In a nutshell, it really is as black and white as following the rules of the road.