You know the basic traffic laws — stop at a red light, obey the speed limit, don’t drink and drive.
But this is America, land of the free and home of the make-it-up-as-you-go-along, so in addition to the standard traffic laws, there are some weird and wacky ones out there.
Some of them are specific to activities common in that town or state, and some of them make you wonder why someone had to tell you it’s illegal to do that.
Here are 10 of the weirdest, wackiest traffic laws in America.
By Cindy Perman
24 March 2011
In Kansas, it is illegal to screech your tires. That’s a state law, but there are also local ordinances to back it up.
In Derby, Kansas, for example, it’s part of a standard traffic ordinance that any act which causes or creates “unnecessary rapid acceleration, unnecessary tire squeal, skid, smoke or slide upon acceleration or stopping including the casting of tread, gravel, dirt or other road surface materials from the tires” is illegal. Also any acts that “simulate a temporary race.”
The penalty is a fine up to $500 and/or imprisonment up to 30 days.
In Eureka, California, it is unlawful and an infraction to sleep in any public space. That might make you think park bench, but they go so far as to add that you are not to sleep on any sidewalk, alley or STREET. That’s right, they have to tell you not to sleep in the street.
The offense, should you live to be penalized for it, is classified as a misdemeanor and punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in jail.
In Fort Thomas, Kentucky, it is illegal for your pet to “molest” a vehicle. Yes, that is the actual, unfortunate legal term used in the city ordinance for “animal-related nuisance.”
The idea of this section is that it is illegal for a pet to cause “annoyance, discomfort or injury to the health and welfare of persons in the community.” The ordinance states that that includes “molesting pedestrians or passing vehicles.”
It is unclear if they were just being thorough or if doggie molestation of cars is common here. In any case, the penalty is that animal-control officers have the right to impound any animal and issue a citation to the owner. Of course, if your dog has a habit of molesting vehicles, you probably already knew you had problems!
The penalty is a fine of up to $500.
Yes, doughnut cravings can be powerful but if you’re in South Berwick, Maine, they can also be expensive. If you park in front of the Dunkin Donuts, you will be ticketed. Specifically, the Dunkin Donuts on Main Street “to a point of 25 feet south.”
No, it’s not so police officers can always be first in line. It’s actually part of a longer list of no-parking zones to “avoid conflict with other traffic.” In this particular case, there’s a school right next door and the road isn’t big enough for parking — parking there would block traffic. Of the seven locations listed in this section of the town ordinance, it’s worth noting that this is the only one that specifically names a business — “No parking in front of the Dunkin Donuts.” They were probably so sick of hearing the excuse “Oh, I’ll just be in and out in five minutes,” that they decided to spell it out — no, seriously, no parking on Main Street IN FRONT OF THE DUNKIN DONUTS.
The penalty is a fine of up to $175 and/or jail time of up to 30 days.
Hope you enjoyed that doughnut!
If you’re not going to listen to your mother and keep your language clean, you’re going to have to answer to the law in Rockville, Maryland. Here, it’s illegal to swear within earshot of other people, whether you’re on a street, sidewalk or highway. That means even if you’re in your car, you’re going to have to use your talking-in-front-of-the-kids voice.
The penalty is a fine up to $100 and/or jail time up to 90 days.
Dang, that’s tough!
This time we’re not talking about your language — we’re talking about your car. In Minnetonka, Minnesota, it is considered a public nuisance, and therefore illegal for “a truck or other vehicle whose wheels or tires deposit mud, dirt, sticky substances, litter or other material on any street or highway.”
All violations of the Minnetonka code are subject to fines up to $2,000 but a spokesperson for the city said the city “attempts several other measures to mitigate the situation before pursuing misdemeanor charges.”
This is also something you shouldn’t have to tell people outside of a nude beach but in Sag Harbor, NY, it is illegal to take your clothes off in your car.
Sag Harbor, out in the tony Hamptons section of Long Island, is a popular spot for beachgoers. So, this section of the code is part of the parks and recreation law — that you have to be wearing a bathing suit in public and you can’t disrobe on the street or in your car or in any public place.
The penalty is a fine of up to $100 and/or jail time up to three months.
Roller skating may seem like a harmless hobby but if you do it in the street in Canton, Ohio (other than crossing the street, of course) — that’s illegal.
That section of the Canton code also applies to “any coaster, toy vehicle, skateboard or similar device.”
The penalty is a fine up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.
How much allowance would you have to save up to pay off a $1,000 fine?!
In Oregon, no dilly-dallying with your car door: It’s illegal to leave a vehicle door open on the side of traffic, pedestrians or bicycles “for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.”
The penalty is a fine of $90 and possible jail time.
Ready … set … time’s up!
In Hilton Head, South Carolina, it is illegal to store trash in your car.
Specifically, that section of the code states that it it’s unlawful “to place, leave, dump or permit to accumulate any garbage, rubbish or trash in any building, vehicle and their surrounding areas in the town so that the same shall or may afford food or harborage for rats.”
A violation is consider a public nuisance and is subject to a fine of up to $500 and/or jail time of up to 30 days.