Criminal Law

Surprising Things You Can Get Arrested For

Bike Sunset

There are common laws that almost everyone in America follows. The majority of the population pays their taxes, stops at red lights, and refrains from killing their neighbors even when they throw loud parties. For the most part, these laws are easy to follow. However, some laws are more obscure. Here are three surprising things you can get arrested for.

Riding Your Bike Under the Influence

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is dangerous to you and the people around you, which is why there are laws against operating a vehicle while intoxicated. However, this might even include operating a bicycle while intoxicated. While the writing varies from state to state, many legal experts agree that riding a bike constitutes “operating a vehicle,” even if it’s self-propelled. This is because it’s certainly possible to damage property and put people’s lives at risk while riding a bike while drunk or high. Even if you walk away unscathed, a car swerving to avoid you could get into a fatal crash.

DWI laws also apply to golf carts, Segways, and even lawn mowers. While you might not get arrested for drinking a beer while mowing your lawn, you still could be operating a motor vehicle under the influence.

Skipping School

While most kids fear the wrath of their parents if they skip school, too many missed days can actually land them in jail. CNN shared one story of two Texas boys who had to move more than 20 miles from the closest school because of family issues. In Texas, students who miss more than 10 days of school within a six-month period can face fines, or jail time if the citations aren’t paid. Their grandfather used $1,300 of his Social Security benefits to bail one grandson out of jail and pay fines for the other.

Laws like this tend to hurt poorer students the most, the CNN story said, as 80 percent of Texas students who are sent to court for missing school are low-income and struggle to pay the fines.

Cursing in Public

Most people have let the occasional f-bomb slip in a public place and haven’t been arrested, but there are cases of people taking it too far. One woman in South Carolina was arrested for cursing inside a grocery store. When asked to stop, she started swearing at the other people around her. Eventually, this led to an arrest for disorderly conduct.

In a similar story, a man in North Carolina was arrested for “using profanity and abusive language,” toward an auto parts store manager. In both of these cases, the cursing itself isn’t the problem as much as the context. The people arrested for swearing were creating an abusive or intimidating environment for others that could have escalated to violence. The arresting officers gave both people chances to calm down and only arrested them when they refused.

While you might not perfectly follow every law on the books, it’s possible to follow most just by not being a nuisance to others. However, when you create a dangerous situation, you can expect the police to get involved.

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Paul Tomaszewski is a science & tech writer as well as a programmer and entrepreneur. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of CosmoBC. He has a degree in computer science from John Abbott College, a bachelor's degree in technology from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, and completed some business and economics classes at Concordia University in Montreal. While in college he was the vice-president of the Astronomy Club. In his spare time he is an amateur astronomer and enjoys reading or watching science-fiction. You can follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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