A few years ago I was on a road trip traveling through a nearby state when I suddenly realized I was speeding. I had come around a curve, going down the hill and picked up speed. Before I knew it, I hit 83 mph and was breaking the law. I immediately backed off and self-corrected but it was too late. I had caught the attention of the local law enforcement and was pulled over. I expected to simply get a speeding ticket and a stern warning but found myself in a potentially much worse situation. Turns out that there are some questions I should have asked before I accidentally started speeding in a new state.
Did you know that there are some states that consider anything over 80mph to be reckless driving and an act subject to immediate arrest, a misdemeanor on your record for the rest of your life, significant points on your driving license and several thousand dollars in fines? My ignorance of the law in that state almost got me in some serious trouble.
Questions to ask before a Road Trip
Since we love to travel and take long road trips with the family, I figured I should share some resources and help you ask some important questions so you don’t end up in a precarious situation like I did.
What are the Speed Limit Laws?
Just because I didn’t know that over 80 mph was considered reckless driving, I was still subject to the full penalty of that law had the officer felt it was needed. In that moment, I realized how serious this could have been. I am very fortunate that he chose to educate me instead of punishing me to the full extent of the law. Before you take off to visit a new state, read up on the laws.
And in case you are wondering the results of my speeding adventure: I was given a stern warning and let go with just a minor ticket for a travel violation. But I promise you, I have not let myself get more than 2 miles over the speed limit since that experience!
How to find the laws by state:
- You can do a quick internet search using keywords like “speed limit laws in Kentucky”.
- Read this article to get an overview of which states have the strictest laws on reckless driving.
Are the car seat laws different?
Of course, everyone should be wearing the proper seat belts, but states have different laws about the use of car seats for children. Do a little research so you will know what that state thinks is the proper age for children to be in different car seat restraints.
- Use this link to find car seat laws by state
Can I use my phone while driving?
Let’s face it. Many people use the time spent driving to catch up on phone calls with family and friends. While some states allow the use of cell phones, there are others who will pull you over and ticket you if they see you holding a phone. Save yourself the trouble and know which states allow talking, which ones only allow hands-free calling and learn the laws before you go.
Of course, no one should be texting while driving no matter what state you are in! Arrive safe!
Messages can wait!
- Start your research here to see what the laws are on cell phone/distracted driving by state.
Are Radar Detectors allowed?
Some people like to keep a fuzz buster or radar detector in their car to help remind them to stay under the speed limit; but not all states allow them. If you choose to use a radar detector, know the law before you enter the state.
- AAA has a great resource to help you understand the laws regarding radar detectors by state.
What are the Concealed Carry Laws?
If you choose to exercise your right to carry a concealed weapon when you travel, then be knowledgeable about the laws for each state you will enter. Does the state recognize your license? Are there different laws that you need to be aware of before crossing the state line?
- Use this resource to become educated about the handgun laws in each state.
Are there Toll Road?
Many states still have toll roads that require you to pay to access the highway. But not all toll roads use the same payment system. Some require coins, others are more expensive and require you to use a credit card. There are even some bridges that just snap a picture of your license plate and send you a bill in the mail. Do a little research before you hit the road so you will be prepared for toll roads.
Most of you are like me. We follow the law and try our best to be responsible citizens. But sometimes we find ourselves in a situation like I did on the side of the road, just inches away from an officer with a potentially life changing situation in play. Even though this was my first offense, in that state it was enough that I had broken the law. That officer could have changed my life forever. Be smart and know the laws so you don’t accidentally end up in a bad situation.
Have you ever learned a lesson like this the hard way? Got any stories to share about how important it is to know the laws of the states you visit? I’d love to hear!
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