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August 22, 2016

Wacky Driving Laws


Nothing can be more embarrassing than having to phone your attorney from Alaska for legal assistance in escaping a fine for lashing your Irish Setter to the roof of your car. Mitt Romney may have gotten away with it in Massachusetts in 1983, but that behavior would get him a hefty fine in Alaska where it is illegal to tether a dog onto the roof of a car. Laws about traveling with animals are common, but why does Massachusetts make it illegal to drive with a gorilla in the back seat of your car?

Gorilla_in_car-felixwong.com_gallery_images_o_old_town_car_show10-7It’s fun to search for the wacky driving laws that that are imposed upon American drivers, though so many of them seem so common sense, it makes us wonder why they were ever introduced into legislation in the first place. We get it: It’s certainly not safe to jump from cars at speeds faster than 65 mph or to wear a blindfold when driving — but these actions are actually illegal in California and Alabama, respectively. They seem obvious enough, wonder why they need a laws to enforce it?

Please note that proper driving attire is required in many states:  in Alabama (where it is illegal to drive barefoot), in California (where it is illegal for women to drive in housecoats), and in Illinois (where it is illegal to change your clothes in a vehicle with the curtains drawn). In these states shoes and clothes must be worn in the car at all times…

Practical Safety Legislation

Plenty of laws are more practical than weird, created to enforce legitimate safety for passengers and vehicle operators — and knowing how these affect you is important. If you’re interested in catching up on the Motor Vehicle safety laws in your state, Auto Club Association of America provides a comprehensive Digest of Motor Laws and Regulations for every state in the U.S. (and Canada, too) regarding safe driving, driver’s licenses, helmet laws, state speed limit laws, and much more. Check it out so you can be informed about changes that might directly affect you. The following are some more interesting highlights:

Smoking _cigarette_in_car-iStock_31837838-LouieBaxterSmoking with minor children in the car is illegal in many states, including Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, and New Jersey, among others. Second-hand smoke has been proven dangerous, and smoke-free vehicles ensure that minor passengers can breathe healthful, clean air.

Motor vehicle safety legislation isn’t just about protecting human passengers: It is illegal in many states to leave an animal alone in a parked car in a manner that endangers the animal’s health or safety. Remember, even with the vehicle’s windows left slightly open, an outside temperature of 85 degrees can increase a temperature inside to vehicle to more than 100 degrees within 10 minutes, and up to 120 degrees within 30 minutes. Dogs breathe differently from humans, so their central nervous systems can be overwhelmed in less than 15 minutes from excessive heat.

Distracted driving laws continue to be enacted across the country: While only 18 states have laws against using any handheld device while driving, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association  46 states ban texting altogether. As of August 2016, only Arizona, Missouri, Montana, and Texas have not yet implemented laws against texting and driving.

Transporting Firearms in your Car?

Cabelas-gun_storageA provision of the federal law called the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act (FOPA) allows gun transportation across state lines on the interstate highway system with legally acquired firearms for lawful purposes. While handguns and assault weapons may have different regulations, NRA-ILA says that according to FOPA, a gun can be transported in a vehicle as long as it is unloaded, cased, and locked in either the vehicle’s trunk or in a locked, rear compartment where it cannot easily be accessed by the driver or passengers. Ammunition must also be locked and stored in the trunk or in a locked container somewhere other than the glove compartment or console.

Keep in mind, once you reach your destination, state and local laws govern the possession, ownership, and transportation of the firearm. Laws for firearm transportation vary through through the states so caution is key for travelers; be sure you are familiar with the legislation in the states and counties through which you will be traveling.


Are You In The Market For A New Car?

Bluetooth connectivity can allow you to safely place calls, operate your music player, or send and receive texts using voice commands, and many manufacturers are implementing handsfree technology to help you interact more safely with your devices while behind the wheel of their cars. Before you buy, shop and compare safety technologies using the AskPatty Auto Buying Service. Find a national compendium of motor laws and regulations at; discover some other wacky driving laws at

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