Of all the myriad ways your local municipality schemes to separate us from our hard-earned cash, none feels as devious as the lowly traffic ticket. A moving violation is like a gut punch to your self-esteem, an ambush to your autonomy, the long arm of Johnny Law reminding you that nobody’s above the syncopated flash of red and blue in the rear view.
But a California stop might be the least of your worries in some states. We dug up a few doozies that are so bizarre, they feel designed solely to pry the Benjamins out of unsuspecting motorists’ wallets. We pored over reams of traffic code (sorta), and got tips from local officials and the folks over at Cycle Trader, who just happened to have a few head-scratchers written down, so we’ll roll those in (wait, do used bikes receive a disproportionate number of tickets?).
In any case, we rational, level-headed, emotionally mature types here at Cycle World would never encourage breaking the rules of the road in any form, so be sure to brush up on the regulations that govern your particular locality. You might be unpleasantly surprised.
1. Oregon just can’t seem to get that Wild West mentality out its system; the state has now made it perfectly fine to salvage deer and elk accidentally struck by a vehicle. But there are a few provisions to go along with that, such as: You need a permit; you have to move the entire carcass off the road; and it can salvaged for human consumption only. Either way, roadkill is now on the menu. Yum.
2. Hawaii just signed an unusual new shoulder lane law, but it’s not all that clear.Motorcycles can now use shoulder lanes, but only when the Department of Transportation says so—so quite a few details need to be ironed out, even though the law took effect in January 2019.
3. According to Virginia statute 18.2-422, you cannot conceal your identity while in certain places, including on a motorcycle. So it seems that motorcyclists can wear a costume that covers the body, so long as the face is uncovered. I guess just the Bat Cycle will have to do then.
4. Motorcyclists can run red lights—legally—in more than a dozen states. In Illinois, for example, in a municipality with less than 2 million residents, motorcyclists can treat the stoplight like a stop sign—provided they yield to other traffic before proceeding. The “dead red” rule also applies in Arkansas, Idaho, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin, which allow a motorcyclist to proceed with caution after coming to a complete stop through a red light that fails to detect the bike. A similar law was recently enacted in Oregon and Washington too.
5. Minnesota wants to you to put on the right pants—if you’re a student in a motorcycle learning or endorsement program, anyway. According to statute 7411.0565, students must always wear pants when riding. It also mentions suiting up in protective clothing, gloves, helmets, and eye wear too, so, sorry, super-casual riders. ATGATT, you know.
6. If you’re a wheelie demon, the state of Maine wants to have a stern talk with you—and maybe slap on some wrist jewelry. While laws against wheelies are pretty common, Maine’s regulation says a person “may not intentionally or knowingly raise the front wheel of a motorcycle off the surface.” But what if you simply Could. Not. Stop. your Triumph Speed Triple RS’s front end from elevating? Accidents happen, right?
7. Don’t let the Sooner State Police see that Avengers mag. It’s a crime to read comic books behind the wheel when driving in Oklahoma. We guess it’s okay if you’re scanning through a War and Peace hardcover, or emailing your beau on an iPad, but illustrations seem to drive the local po-po nuts.
8. There’s some debate about this, but in Alabama it’s apparently legal to drive the wrong way down a one-way street if you have a lantern attached to the front of your car. In that case, we can think of a couple of dudes on Electra Glide Ultra Classics who easily qualify. Did we also mention that it’s illegal to drive with a blindfold on in Alabama? What’s up with that, ’Bama?
9. Welcome to Nevada—now get your camel off the highway. Yep, it’s illegal In Nevada to drive a camel on the slab, though doing laps around the block seems fine. The Africa Twin’s probably a better fit for the desert anyway.
10. It may be the birthplace of the United States, but Pennsylvania needs to join the modern world. The Keystone state requires any motorist who spots a team of horses coming their way to pull well off the road, cover his/her car with a blanket, and let the horses pass. You might want to avoid the pony pies anyway.
11. Revenge is mine, Moby Dick. At least in Tennessee. Last time we checked, the Volunteer State was landlocked, but one of its traffic laws makes it legal to hunt whales from a moving car or motorcycle. Other game is illegal though, so don’t even think about it. Or maybe just move to Oregon.