17 of the Weirdest Driving Laws in the U.S. You Didn’t Know

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Traffic laws are fairly straightforward — don’t speed, don’t run red lights, don’t drive while intoxicated. But in some states, the rules get a little weird. Weird as in don’t honk your horn at night near a sandwich shop and don’t yell obscenities when you’re in a fit of road rage.

SmartFinancial has compiled a list of weird laws in the U.S., with some being either painfully obvious, strangely interesting or just downright silly.

Key Takeaways

  • Weird U.S. traffic laws include making it illegal to swear while driving in Maryland, banning honking near sandwich shops after 9:00 pm in Arkansas and securing your bear properly in the back of your vehicle in Massachusetts.
  • While some traffic laws sound silly, the consequences are real and violations can result in fines and even jail time.
  • A traffic violation, no matter how silly, can lead to an increase in your car insurance rate.

weird driving laws in the US infographic

1. You Pay for Rescue Costs if Stuck in a Barricaded Flood Zone in Arizona

Perhaps one of the greatest traffic laws in the United States, the "Stupid Motorist Law" in Arizona states that any driver who bypasses an official barricade in an area that has flooded will be required to pay for any emergency response vehicles needed to rescue the driver, their passengers and their vehicle.[1]

2. Car Insurance May Not Be Required in Some Alaska Counties

Some counties in Alaska are so remote that the state does not require drivers living there to register their vehicles. Similarly, a car that does not have to be registered also does not need to have car insurance — this is likely because the chances of getting into a car accident in an area with so few drivers is relatively low.[2] Check if you’re exempt from having to carry car insurance.

3. Honking After 9:00 PM Is a Public Nuisance in Arkansas

In Little Rock, Arkansas, there is a law that bans drivers from honking their horn where cold drinks and sandwiches are served after 9:00 pm (it used to be 11:00 pm before 1941). Breaking this law can result in a fine up to $1,000 for a first offense.[3][4] While there is no confirmation as to why this law was enacted, we assume that drivers were overzealous with their car horns while waiting for their late-night curbside fast-food pickup.

4. Drivers Cannot Change Inside Their Vehicles in Delaware

In Rehoboth Beach, it is unlawful for people to change inside their vehicle, at least while it's in public view.[5] If your car is parked in your garage, change all you want.

5. You Can Drive Barefoot in a Car but Not a Motorcycle in Georgia

Georgia law specifies that some type of footwear in addition to socks is required while riding a motorcycle.[6] On the other hand, there is no law prohibiting barefoot driving in a passenger car in Georgia. Still, although freeing your toes while driving a car sounds liberating, we still recommend wearing proper footwear for safety reasons.

6. Billboards Are Illegal in Honolulu

Unlike the billboard mania you see in Las Vegas, it is unlawful to erect billboards in Honolulu and we like this — you wouldn’t want commercial advertising to pull your attention away from the island’s natural beauty after all. However, there are some exceptions. Namely, billboards are allowed for official court use, political campaigns and open house invitations, among other reasons.[7]

7. Idaho Bicyclists Can Treat Red Lights Like Stop Signs in Georgia

Red lights still mean stop, but a cyclist in Idaho can ride through the red light after they’ve come to a complete stop and if no one is nearby.[8] Stop signs can also be rolled right through by bicyclists if there are no other vehicles actively moving through roadways.

8. You Can’t Swear From a Vehicle in Maryland

While you shouldn't be swearing at anyone anyway, drivers in Rockville can receive a misdemeanor charge for using obscene language while behind the wheel. If you're caught using language that would make George Carlin blush, you could face a fine of $100.[9]

9. You Must Properly Secure Your Bear During Transport in Massachusetts

In 1902, the State of Massachusetts passed an oddly specific law on how you should secure your bear — or any wild animal for that matter — if you’re transporting it on a public road. Violate this law and you risk paying a whopping fine ranging from $5 to $20. The law has since been revised, expanding from wild animals to now any animal in the back of your motor vehicle and providing specific instructions on how that animal should be secured.[10]

Specifically, the animal must be enclosed or have racks extending at least 46 inches high. Precautions must also be taken for preventing the animal from falling from or jumping off the vehicle, which may include tethering the animal or enclosing it in a cage. Breaking this law can result in a minimum fine of $50.[10]

10. Adult Drivers Don’t Need To Wear Seat Belts in New Hampshire

You are not required to wear a seat belt in New Hampshire but only if you are age 18 or older.[11] Anyone under the legal age of adulthood must buckle up or you may receive a moving violation citation. Still, studies have shown that seat belts can save lives and buckling up is always recommended.

11. Pumping Your Own Gas Is Illegal in New Jersey

In many states, you need to step outside your car and pump your own gas but if you’re in New Jersey, that’s illegal. The state of New Jersey explains that refilling a gas tank poses a fire hazard and to mitigate the risk, the gas station attendant must control the pump. Gasoline operators make sure the engine to the vehicle is turned off and there are no lit cigarettes near the vehicle while it is being fueled.[12]

12. Horse Riders Have the Same Rights as Regular Drivers in Pennsylvania

Specifically, the Pennsylvania law says people riding animals or using animal-operated vehicles like horse-drawn carriages have the same rights and responsibilities as normal drivers.[13] You could technically get a reckless driving ticket while speeding through a public road on a Hungarian Mangalitsa (big, wooly pig). The only exception is that you cannot ride an animal or drive an animal-operated vehicle on a limited-access highway.

13. A Horse’s Speed Cannot Be Tested on Highways in Rhode Island

Perhaps the weirdest law on this list, a Rhode Island ordinance also makes it illegal to both race horses and test a horse's speed on highways — apparently, this was a problem in Little Rhody and formal legislation had to be encoded in response. Anyone who breaks either of these laws can be penalized with a fine up to $20 or face jail time of up to ten days.[14]

14. Some Minors Can't Travel in the Open Bed of a Truck in South Carolina

If you’re under 15 in South Carolina, say goodbye to your riding-in-the-flatbed-of-a-truck privileges because it is absolutely illegal, at least by yourself. Those under 15 can still drive in the flatbed of a truck as long as an adult accompanies them.[15] Other permissible situations include emergencies, proper restraints have been installed or the vehicle is being used for a hayride/parade.

15. Hunting From a Vehicle Is Banned in Tennessee

Tennessee legislation specifically prohibits the hunting of any wild animal from a vehicle but you may see other resources say that whales are the exception to this rule.[16] However, considering that Tennessee is not a coastal state, the possibility of hunting a whale is essentially zero. In other words (and humor aside), no animal hunting from a vehicle is allowed in Tennessee.

16. Windshields Are Not Included in Vehicle Inspections in Texas

Oddly enough though, damaged window wipers or a cracked windshield that reduces visibility can result in a failed vehicle inspection in Texas.[17] If that's the case, we wonder if you can take a car with no windshield at all and still pass inspection.

17. You Can Keep (and Eat) Your Roadkill in Virginia

This Virginia law specifically refers to bears and deer and if a driver hits either one, they must notify the conservation police. If the office confirms the collision was the cause of death, the officer would award the animal to the driver who may do with it what they will, including eat it. They’ll even get a nifty certificate.[18]

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Do traffic tickets affect my car insurance rates?

Traffic tickets you get from out-of-state or your home state can affect your insurance rates depending on the citation type and how many you've had within a certain window of time.

Will a traffic ticket stay on my record?

Points from a traffic ticket can stay on your record for years depending on the type of violation and the state you received the citation. A DUI, for instance, can stay on your record for up to 13 years if you live in California.[19]

Is it illegal to drive barefoot where I live?

For the most part, driving barefoot is legal, though there may be some municipalities in some states where driving barefoot is against the law.


  1. City of Phoenix. “Stupid Motorist Law.” Accessed June 15, 2023.
  2. Alaska Department of Motor Vehicles. “Mandatory Insurance.” Accessed June 15, 2023.
  3. Municode. “Chapter 18 - Miscellaneous Provisions and Offenses.” Accessed June 15, 2023.
  4. University of Arkansas. “Virtually Legal: Or Don’t Believe Everything You See on the Internet!” Pages 9-10. Accessed June 15, 2023.
  5. eCode360. “Article III: Offenses Against Morals.” Accessed June 15, 2023.
  6. Justia. “2010 Georgia Code, Title 40 - Motor Vehicles and Traffic, Chapter 6 - Uniform Rules of the Road, Article 13 - Special Provisions for Certain Vehicles, Part 2 - Motorcycles, § 40-6-311 - Manner of Riding Motorcycle Generally.” Accessed June 15, 2023.
  7. Hawai’i State Legislature. “§445-112  Where and When Permitted.” Accessed June 15, 2023.
  8. Idaho Legislature. “Title 49 - Motor Vehicles, Chapter 7 - Pedestrians and Bicycles.” Accessed June 15, 2023.
  9. Municode. “Chapter 13 - Miscellaneous Provisions and Offenses.” Accessed June 15, 2023.
  10. Mass.gov. “No Gorillas Allowed in the Back Seats of Cars?” Accessed June 15, 2023.
  11. Centers for Disease Control. “Buckle Up: Restraint Use,” Page 2. Accessed June 15, 2023.
  12. New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. “Retail Gasoline Dispensing Safety Act and Regulations.” Accessed June 15, 2023.
  13. Pennsylvania General Assembly. “Part III - Operation of Vehicles, Chapter 31 - General Provisions, Subchapter A - Obedience to and Effect of Traffic Laws.” Accessed June 15, 2023.
  14. State of Rhode Island General Assembly. “Title 11 - Criminal Offenses, Chapter 22 - Highways, R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-22-11.” Accessed June 15, 2023.
  15. South Carolina Legislature. “Title 56 - Motor Vehicles, Chapter 5 - Uniform Act Regulating Traffic on Highways, Article 1 - General Provisions.” Accessed June 15, 2023.
  16. Justia. “2021 Tennessee Code Title 70 - Wildlife Resources Chapter 4 - Miscellaneous Regulations Part 1 - Hunting and Fishing § 70-4-109..” Accessed June 15, 2023.
  17. Texas Department of Public Safety. “FAQ - Items of Inspection.” Accessed June 15, 2023.
  18. Virginia’s Legislative Information System. “§ 29.1-539. Keeping Deer or Bear Struck by Motor Vehicle; Procedure To Be Followed by Driver.” Accessed June 15, 2023.
  19. The Ticket Clinic. “Speeding Tickets, Traffic Citations and Your California Driving Record.” Accessed June 15, 2023.

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