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7 driving laws in the U.S. that are genuinely bizarre
Some driving laws that sound too bizarre to be true probably aren't, as anyone will quickly find when investigating the claims behind the wildest traffic laws circulating on social media.
For instance, the rumor that there's a law forbidding driving through Massachusetts with a gorilla in the backseat isn't true (although driving with a gorilla in your back seat isn't a good idea regardless of whether it’s explicitly illegal).
But if you do enough digging, you'll find that there are some laws on the books that will make you raise an eyebrow, especially when they seem like common sense.
1. If you transport a bear in Massachusetts, keep it caged
While there's no specific mention of gorillas in the Massachusetts state driving laws, there is a law that considers bears and wild animals in general. Maybe this is the law where the rumor about gorillas comes from.
MGL Chapter 85 Section 19 says bears and any other "dangerous wild animal" must be properly secured while in transit or the driver will be subject to a fine "of not less than five nor more than 20 dollars."
Perhaps the most surprising part of this law is not that you should lock up a bear if you're going to transport it, but that if you allow it to sit unsecured in your backseat you'll only get a fine of $20. Perhaps this amount hasn't been adjusted for inflation in awhile.
2. No diseased cattle are allowed on the road
Another Massachusetts law was probably more important a century ago.
MGL Chapter 129 Section 35 says "Texan, Mexican, Cherokee, Indian or other cattle" that are believed to be carrying a contagious disease "shall not be driven on any public way or road."
You're not likely to see any cattle, diseased or otherwise, being driven down Massachusetts streets today, but this law makes one wonder if healthy cattle can be driven down public roads.
3. Motorcyclists may occasionally run red lights
It's true, there's a law on the books in Illinois allowing motorcyclists traveling through areas with less than 2 million inhabitants to run red lights. Don't go running them willy-nilly, though.
Illinois Public Act 097-0627 says, when a red light "fails to change to a green signal within a reasonable period of time because of a signal malfunction or because the signal has failed to detect the arrival of the motorcycle due to the motorcycle's size or weight," the motorcyclist may proceed with caution and cannot be issued a traffic citation.
4. Don't wear masks
If you're going to wear a costume in Virginia, leave the mask at home, or wait until you get to your party to put it on.
Virginia HB 542 "provides that a person over the age of 16 who wears a mask, hood or other device that hides or covers a substantial portion of the face with the intent to conceal his identity, subject to certain exceptions, is guilty of a Class 6 felony."
Interestingly, the code does not indicate whether it matters what your intentions are with the mask. Since you should have permission from the public or private property owner to wear one, driving with a mask is probably a bad idea.
5. Personalized license plates are for sober drivers only
If you live in New Jersey and have been convicted of driving while intoxicated, don't plan on getting a personalized license plate anytime soon.
N.J.S.A. 39:3-33.5 says "No particular identifying mark or special organization license plate . . . may be issued to an applicant who . . . has been convicted of a violation of either section 39:4-50 or section 39:4-96," these codes referring to DWI state laws.
You have to wait 10 years from the date of your infraction before getting personalized plates, again — as if you needed another reason not to drink and drive.
6. Minimum speed laws don't apply to vintage vehicles
Driving your vintage vehicle has never been more relaxing than in Utah, where minimum speed limits don't apply in certain instances.
Utah Code 41-21-3 allows properly registered vintage vehicles to be driven as slowly as the driver desires, within reason, while on the way to a vintage car convention or while on tour. So, the next time you're stuck behind a vintage vehicle in traffic, take a deep breath and admire the piece of history sitting before you.
7. Don't transport children on your running boards
Here's one of those laws that sounds obvious, but some people need it spelled out for them.
In Oregon, ORS 811.205 states that children cannot be carried "upon the hood, fender, running board, or other external part of any motor vehicle that is upon a highway."
However, kids can be carried in the open bed of a truck at certain times, so the law goes on to list the times that can be OK. Maybe it's not such an obvious law, after all.
Whether traffic laws are wacky or a little less remarkable, following them is an important part of keeping yourself, the passengers in your car and others on the road safe. This message is proudly sponsored by WMC Tri-State Medical Network.