GOING ON VACATION: IGNORANCE OF LAW IS NO EXCUSE!
With the winter holidays quickly approaching, people form all over the country will be traveling by car, plane, and train to visit relatives in other states. It is important to remain aware of changes in laws when traveling between states. It is easy to forget that every state enacts its own laws, and even easier to neglect to read up on those laws before traveling.
Some of the most important laws to familiarize yourself with when traveling are traffic and pedestrian laws. I recently traveled from Florida to Tennessee for a winter vacation. After talking to some area residents I quickly realized that I was dangerously unfamiliar with some very important traffic and pedestrian laws. For example, in Florida it is legal to cross a street outside of a crosswalk if you travel at a ninety degree angle. Where I was staying in Tennessee it was against the law to cross the street anywhere but in a cross walk. It would be easy for an unsuspecting tourist to break that law and end up having to pay a hefty fine, or worse end up in jail, during their vacation.
Another set of important laws that change from state to state are weapons laws. Weapons laws vary widely depending on the state you are in. In Florida it is legal to carry a concealed firearm if you possess a concealed carry permit. Some states give reciprocity to other states’ concealed carry permit holders. Reciprocity just means that they will honor the other states permit and allow those permit holders to carry a concealed firearm while visiting. Other states do not give reciprocity, and may have severe penalties for anyone caught carrying a concealed firearm. It is always important double check if you have reciprocity or not before carrying a firearm in another state. It is also important to learn when and where you may carry that firearm.
Another example of laws that vary from state to state are alcohol related laws. In most states it is illegal for pedestrians to walk around town with open containers of alcohol. In some states and cities it is acceptable. These laws tend to be very geographically specific, and could change between different parts of the same city. For instance, in Georgia it is generally illegal to carry an open container of alcohol. That remains true in most parts of the city of Savannah Georgia. However, in the historic district of Savannah the open container laws are lifted, and it is acceptable to have open containers of alcohol outside of licensed bars. A tourist could very easily wander outside of the historic district with an open container and suffer legal consequences. It is important to not only familiarize yourself with the laws of different states, but to also know when and where those laws apply.