There are a lot of new laws and regulations that you need to learn when you get a motorcycle license. And, while most of them will be very useful in your day-to-day driving experience, some laws (that may have been relevant at some point in history) today are not only completely irrelevant but oddly weird.
After reading this list, you might decide to give up riding a motorcycle. Simply put, the number of ridiculous laws still out there are laughable. With laws varying in strangeness from no passenger gorillas allowed to helmets not being a requirement in some states, the intended purpose is questionable. If they are trying to save lives, some of these laws just don’t make sense. Some of them didn’t make the list, such as being required to check for children under a vehicle in Denmark, but the ones that made an honorable mention are sure to astound each and every one of you motorcycle drivers from across the country.
It’s always fun to look back at some of history’s outdated and strange laws that are still applicable today. Some of them are downright weird, and yet you’ve probably been breaking a lot of them. Here are 20 of the weirdest motorcycle laws that riders need to follow, plus five laws that nobody in their right minds would obey.
Be sure to share your favorite weird law with a friend. Let’s get started!
25 OHIO: Not OK to Run Out of Gas
If you are in a congested district of Youngstown, Ohio, you are legally not allowed to run out of gas. You’ll have to be extra vigilant monitoring your gas meter, you don’t want to get caught having to pay for a lift/tow, gas and a fine all at the same time.
It’s a pretty weird law if you ask us, as we can’t say we’ve ever heard of anyone intentionally running out of gas and wanting to be stranded. But, if you do, be prepared for that nice cop to show up.
24 IOWA, NEW HAMPSHIRE & ILLINOIS: No Rule Requiring Helmets
You are a lot braver than us if you think riding a motorbike with no helmet is a good idea. But, it seems Iowa, Hew Hampshire and Illinois are the bravest of us all. With no law requiring helmets all residents of these states are free to feel the wind in their hair and the bugs on their face from atop their trusty steed.
Most road riders would think this is bizarre and strange, but there you have it. We recommend for your own safety and that of your passenger that you abide by the rest of the country and protect your noggin, but if you don’t, at the very least you won’t be arrested.
23 VIRGINIA: Not Ok to Ride a Motorcycle in a Costume or Disguise
Batman beware! In the state of Virginia that costume can get you arrested. This law was intended to prevent drivers from wearing masks, however you are fine if there is a legitimate festival, professional or medical reason for wearing one.
With so many costume wearing crusaders, it’s funny to picture Batwoman getting pulled over for daring to express her inner bat. But, the next time you hit the road on your bat bike in Virginia, leave the mask at home and you should be fine.
22 MASSACHUSETTS: Not Allowed to Have a Gorilla as a Passenger
Believe it or not, in the state of Massachusetts you are not allowed to have a dangerous wild animal as your passenger. So, while dogs and cats are fine, anyone looking to double up with a gorilla should think twice. We aren’t sure why such a law would need to be written, as it seems like simple common sense to us.
But, we guess someone out there decided to take their gorilla friend for a stroll and the townspeople were worse off for it. Remember, it’s your duty as citizens to report any type of crime, so if you see a gorilla riding by…
21 PENNSYLVANIA: Required to Stop Every Mile and Send Off a Flare, Light or Rocket Signal
This sounds like a fun law to us, who doesn’t want to legally send off a rocket signal! Though, having to stop every mile and do it could make the journey considerably longer. Luckily, the weirdness doesn’t end there, not only are you required to stop every mile and send off a flare, light or rocket signal, you also must then wait 10 minutes for the road to clear of livestock.
It’s unclear if in say 15 minutes the livestock haven’t moved if you are allowed to continue? So long as you wait the required 10, we’re pretty sure you can ease your fears of being arrested. Pennsylvania, what fun you must have had when this law was created.
20 WEST VIRGINIA: Not Ok To Operate a Motorcycle Outside of Your Ability
No kidding. Though, thinking it through there are quite a lot of videos of that guy riding his motorbike with absolutely no control. We assume none of those happened in West Virginia otherwise they’re probably looking at a set of handcuffs.
If you don’t know how to drive, don’t operate a motorcycle. Seems pretty obvious to us, but if you live in West Virginia you especially might want to take note. Better take those lessons just in case.
19 MINNESOTA: All Students in a Motorcycle Endorsement Program Must Wear Pants
If you were thinking about going for a nice afternoon drive in the sun in a comfy pair of shorts, we are sad to tell you that in Minnesota all young drivers must wear pants. You must also wear protective gloves, clothing and shoes. Strange that shorts aren’t deemed safe…
The good news, to all those catching waves on the west coast, board shorts seem to be fine in your state. We still recommend pants; road rash really isn’t something you want to experience, so cover up!
18 NEW YORK: Not Ok for Motorists to Ride Without Their Feet on the Pedals
If you are too short to reach, you can’t drive in New York. If you are not laughing out loud at this hilarious law, you need to check your sense of humor. We don’t quite know how someone managed it in the first place in order to get this law passed, but consider us impressed.
If your feet don’t reach, you need to find yourself a new ride. We are pretty sure if you start mucking about and doing the ‘look mom no feet’ game on your motorbike, that’s also considered illegal under this law. So, maybe stick to a push bike for that kind of fun.
17 MAINE: It Is Not Ok to Pop a Wheelie
According to Maine Title 29-a §2062, a person may not intentionally or knowingly raise the front wheel of a motorcycle off the surface. The law doesn’t claim anything about unintentionally pulling a wheelie, nor popping your back tire instead of the front… for safety sake, we recommend keeping both wheels on the road at all times.
If you are a fan of the wheelie, well maybe just make sure you are outside of Maine’s state lines before lifting off. We really can’t recommend this as a good idea and while still strange to feel the need to make it a law, we have to say Maine might have got something right with this one.
16 MINNESOTA: It Is a Fineable Offence to Have Dirty Tires
If you ride a motorcycle with dirty tires you are considered “a nuisance that affects public peace, safety and general welfare,” and as such you can get a ticket. We are in support of having clean tires, washing your bike not only looks sharp, but it’s better off for your bike in the long run.
Having it as a written law seems pretty weird to us though. It makes you wonder how dirty someone’s tires must have been to make those in power feel the need to issue this doozy of an edict.
15 12 DIFFERENT US STATES: Motorcycles Are Permitted to Drive Through Red Lights
We wouldn’t recommend blowing through every intersection from here to Timbuktu, but in 12 different US states you certainly can. It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: be safe and follow the rules. Red lights were made for a reason, and it wasn’t just to make us all late.
The “Safe on Red” law was created because in specific states their traffic light sensors (that are sensitive to cars) can’t always pick up the presence of a motorcycle. To fix this technical issue, motorcyclists can treat red lights like a stop sign. As long as you give the right-of-way to vehicles traveling perpendicular to your course, you may proceed with caution.
14 CONNECTICUT: Headlights Must Always Be Illuminated on a Highway
Even during the day. Since 1980, in Connecticut you must drive with your headlights on at all times. So, even on a hot summers day you must have those headlights beaming. We really aren’t sure why this is a law, and suppose it must be for safety reasons.
We understand headlights at night, in fog, in the rain or during any time of low visibility. But, we are completely baffled as to why they are required on perfectly clear days. Despite our lack of understanding, all Connecticut-ians must abide.
13 MARYLAND: No Cursing While Driving
That goes for you too! If you are stuck in traffic and thinking about letting a few curses loose, you might want to lower your voice and roll up your windows first. The notion of being charged with a misdemeanor for swearing seems both too harsh and absolutely ridiculous, and yet that’s exactly what can happen to you in Maryland.
So, maybe just stick to your ‘Fudgsicles’ and ‘Shitake Mushrooms’ on your way through. For all you residents, we recommend starting with a swear jar and working your way up to driving.
12 ALABAMA: Must Have a Lantern Attached if You Are Going to Drive Down a One-Way Street
In order to drive the wrong way down a one-way street, and not be considered a lawbreaker in Alabama, you must have a lantern attached to the front of your vehicle. It isn’t clear if, for all you motorcyclists, you can simply be holding the lantern out in front of you or if it must be attached to the front of your bike.
But, either way, a lantern is a must. You probably could just go a block over and ride the right way up a street, but where’s the fun in that?
11 FLORIDA: $78 Fine for Hitting Pedestrians
If you hit a pedestrian, you’ll count yourself lucky if you are in Sarasota, Florida. A tiny $78 fine and you’re free to go. Just being a nice person and not hitting people with your motorbike is always a good strategy too. It’s a pretty strange law to require residents to only pay $78 for hitting someone, but hey that’s politics for you.
We like to hope that this law was made so long ago, that $78 was a considerable amount of money, but we doubt it. If you do hit a pedestrian and get issued a fine, here’s a bit of advice: we wouldn’t recommend pulling out a $100 on the spot and asking the cop if he has change.
10 CALIFORNIA: Not Ok For Passenger to Jump Off At 65mph
If you are thinking about doing the jump and roll, you better make sure you are going slower than 65mph. The absurdity of this law goes without saying. Once again, it is funny because some passenger out there must have thought it was a good idea to give jumping off a motorbike at 65mph a try.
We just hope they survived it. For all of the sensible people out there, just stay on the bike until it comes to a complete stop. Just like riding a rollercoaster: for your safety while on the ride, please keep your hands, arms, and legs inside the vehicle at all times.
9 ARKANSAS: Not Ok to Honk Horn After 9 pm at Any Place Where Cold Drinks or Sandwiches Are Served
If you are ready to give that annoying car in front of you a good beeping, you better look around first and make sure no one’s sipping a cold drink or eating a sandwich. Plus, you might want to check your watch and make sure it is not after 9 PM.
One of the weirdest laws on this list, we’re still having a bit of a chuckle about it. But, there you have it. Residents of Arkansas can feel safe knowing they can drink a soda and eat a tasty sandwich after nine without fear of being honked at.
8 TENNESSEE: Not Ok to Hunt (Except for Whales) from a Moving Motorcycle
Well, as long as we can still hunt whales. Though, how exactly one is expected to accomplish hunting a whale while astride a motorbike baffles us, but nevertheless, the law says you can.
What you can’t do is hunt any other type of game while riding a motorcycle. The good news is we’re pretty sure you can get yourself there, get off, then hunt. But, hunting while moving is strictly forbidden. Makes sense, no firing while in motion (unless it’s a harpoon). We’ll keep this one in mind the next time we go game hunting in Tennessee.
7 ALABAMA: Not Ok to ride Blindfolded
The really funny part about this law, is that it was made when some guy tried to drive a motorcycle blindfolded. It only takes one person to ruin everyone’s fun! Here is what we want to know: if it’s only illegal in Alabama, does that mean the rest of the country is free to blindfold themselves and play chicken with the road?
Mercifully, Alabama has thought ahead and outlawed this. Maybe, to keep it interesting, we should all spin ourselves around really quickly before jumping on and driving with our blindfolds. Such a silly law, but there it is in black and white.
6 CANADA: Motorbike Riders Who Wear Cultural Head Gear Don’t Need Helmets
Oh Canada, what a polite nation you are. As of April 2018, any motorcycle rider that wears a cultural headpiece – such as a turban – is exempt from the law requiring a helmet to be worn. This exemption is in recognition of its citizens' civil rights and expression, according to a CTV news interview with Brian Mason, Alberta’s Minister of Transport.
To the rest of its citizens that don’t wear cultural headpieces, helmets are still required. We are not sure how this law is enforced, say should someone choose to forgo a helmet for alternative headwear, but we are sure Canada has a plan.
5 Riding Side-By-Side (Nobody Obeys)
If you’ve ever been part of a motorcycle tour group, you’ll know how unenforced this law is. The guides like to tell you over and over again not to ride side-by-side, but do you listen?
It’s not often we see motorcycle riders driving one in front of the other. Our sneaky suspicion is so that at red lights, they can have a nice chat with each other. But, at the end of the day this is one law no one really ever obeys. We must admit, even motorcycle cops seem to disregard this one.
4 Daylight Riding Only (Nobody Obeys)
If you are a motorcycle operator in Boise, Twin Falls, Idaho Falls and/or Lewiston, you are only allowed to ride your motorbike during daylight hours. The good news is that this only qualifies to all those on a motorcycle instruction permit.
But, all the same, we sincerely doubt anyone is obeying this law. You would be a lot safer for it, but this is one law no one is going to follow. You also aren’t allowed any passengers and you aren’t allowed to drive on any freeways.
3 A Loud Muffler (Nobody Obeys)
There are in fact two statutes that cover loud exhaust systems: 39:3-70 (mufflers) and 39:3-76.4 (muffler systems for motorcycles, aka “loud pipes”). This muffler law says that a driver must have an exhaust system that prevents excessive noise, it also has a “cut-out” clause for anyone who tries to bypass the muffler in order to provide their machine with more power.
The “loud pipes” law is specific to motorcycles. Under this law, your bikes muffler must be designed for a motorcycle and be approved by the state Motor Vehicle Commission. Many argue that loud mufflers on motorcycles act as a warning system to other drivers. In any case, as we all know, this is not a law everyone obeys.
2 All Passengers Must Be Large, Strong and Mature (Nobody Obeys)
You must be large enough to easily handle your motorcycle, you must be strong enough to easily lift and maneuver your motorcycle for it to be considered in your ability to drive and you must be mature enough to understand road laws and the responsibility of driving.
All of this sounds well and good, but we are sure that like us you have seen young and/or small drivers operating motorbikes that look a little too big for them. If every person was required to be ‘mature’ enough to drive, we’re sure there would be quite a few less drivers on the road.
1 Can’t Carry Anything That Interferes With Your Ability to Hold the Handlebars (Nobody Obeys)
Anyone that has a beloved pet is usually in breach of this law. We see motorcyclist driving around with their puppy in front of them all the time, and though adorable it really isn’t safe.
We have even seen people carrying boxes and bulky bags in front of them, and we will admit we were a little nervous watching them make those turns. It is one law that people often do not obey. But, it is a law that they really should think twice about disobeying.
Sources: CBC, Jalopnik & How Stuff Works