You are driving a truck, pulling a trailer in which your friends are sitting. You’re barefoot, wearing headphones – the big ones from the ‘70s – and steering the vehicle with a “suicide knob” on the steering wheel. You pull a U-turn and a police officer who was following you pulls you over. Can you be ticketed for any of this?
We’ve all heard or been told that various things are “against the law,” but rarely does anyone bother looking them up. So, I will give you a quick list of the most common things people mistakenly believe are against the law when it comes to driving. That is: This stuff is legal (unless noted otherwise for some states).
Driving barefoot. There is no law against it in any state. It is possible that there might be some place with a local ordinance against it but as of the most recent internet check, there are no federal or state prohibitions against it.
A “Suicide Knob” is a small spinning handle attached to a steering wheel that makes one-handed driving easier. They are called “Suicide knobs” because someone thought they should have a scary name to discourage their use. Be that as it may, suicide knobs are not illegal in most states. And I just use the qualifier “most” because I would have to disprove the negative in 49 different states to be conclusive. You don’t see suicide knobs very often in cars (they are sometimes used in boats and tractors) and I’m not sure why you’d want one. Maybe if you have a car with suicide doors you’d have one to flesh out the theme. If so, Amazon has them.
Wearing headphones while driving is not illegal is prohibited in a few states. Consult a local attorney or our buddies at Lifehacker.
U-turns can be dangerous but are they illegal? Well, one hint is that there are signs which say “No U-Turns.” Logically, if you need a sign to tell you when you can’t do them – then they must be legal otherwise. And others agree with me on this one.
I’ll admit, U-turns can get a bit tricky: for instance, if there is a double yellow line down the middle of the road. But in some states, that indicates “No Passing” but does not prohibit turns made over it.
Riding in a trailer? Not illegal in Michigan, where I live. This is the kind of thing that sounds like it might be frowned on by the Fun Police but no one has outlawed it yet. It is illegal for children to ride in the beds of pickup trucks going over 15 MPH but adults can ride back there all they want.
And while researching this theme, I came across another fun fact. In Michigan, there is no specific prohibition against drunk bicycling. Obviously, you could be nabbed for public drunkenness for the general action of being drunk and acting disorderly and so on, but doing it on a bicycle is not worse - legally - than if you had done it while staggering along on your own two feet.
Oh, and a lot of people seem to think that unpaid tickets received as a minor will be forgiven on your 18th birthday as some sort of reward for becoming an adult. That’s not true either. It’s stupid. But apparently a lot of people believe it (or wish it was true).
So, come to Michigan, put a suicide knob on your steering wheel, kick off your shoes and load your adult friends into your pickup bed. Or get a trailer and load everyone into it. Slap on your headphones and go pull U-turns until everyone is dizzy. The Fun Police will frown upon it but the real police won’t care. (Consult your state laws just to be on the safe side if you decide to do this outside of Michigan.)
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Steve Lehto has been practicing law for 23 years, almost exclusively in consumer protection and Michigan lemon law. He wrote The Lemon Law Bible and Chrysler’s Turbine Car: The Rise and Fall of Detroit’s Coolest Creation.
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