You’re probably breaking the law. Yes, you!

Stephanie Larson
Writer
slarson@lc.edu

I’d be willing to bet that you’ve shared or laughed at one of the many lists of strange laws that can be found online or in magazines. For example, did you know that you’re not allowed to wrestle a bear in Oklahoma? Imagine that! These lists are funny and all, but there’s not much risk that most people would even be tempted to do such a thing. But what about laws you might actually need to worry about? Let’s look at a few in our area.

1. You can be arrested for vagrancy in Illinois if you do not have a dollar in your possession.
Is it a law?

Source: Pixabay

No. The Illinois Compiled Statutes leaves all laws concerning vagrancy to the municipal governments.

2. You may not hang an air freshener, fuzzy dice, or a parking pass from your rearview mirror in Illinois.
Is it a law?

Source: Pinterest

Yes. This law can be found in Illinois Compiled Statutes (625 ILCS 5/12-503), which states, “No person shall drive a motor vehicle with any objects placed or suspended between the driver and the front windshield, rear window, side wings or side windows immediately adjacent to each side of the driver which materially obstructs the driver’s view.”

Is it enforced?
Yes. This law was never repealed and is used as a pretext for traffic stops. And because the statute is so vague as to what exactly qualifies as “obstruct[ing] the driver’s view”, police can enforce this law at their discretion.

3. It is illegal to wear saggy pants in Collinsville, Illinois
Is it a law?

Source: nydailynews


Yes. A city ordinance passed in 2011 required that all pants are worn on public property be “secured at the waist to prevent the pants from falling more than 3 inches below the hips … causing exposure to the person or the person’s undergarments.” Penalties were a $100 citation and up to 40 hours of community service a first offense, and $300 for each following offense.

Is it enforced?
No. The ordinance was never enforced, due in part to a strongly negative public reaction, and the 2011 law was repealed in September 2017.

So what can an everyday person do to avoid being arrested for one of these strange laws? Sadly, not much. Remember, ignorance of a law isn’t a valid defense for breaking it. The only thing to do is to read your local laws and ordinances and to hope for the best from police. Good luck!

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