It’s time for another round of “Legal or Not Legal,” the Inland 360 game that tests your knowledge of the law.Because laws vary from state to state, county to county and city to city, we checked in with Washington and Idaho state police, Quad Cities police departments and state park departments to find out which of these are legal and which are not.
Are you ready? Let’s play: Is this legal or not legal? For each, answer “legal,” “not legal” or “sometimes legal.”
- Driving without carrying your driver’s license
- Ignoring the school zone speed limit during the summer months
- Driving with one license plate on your car
- Collecting a rock, pine cone, shell or other item as a memento from a state or national park
- TPing or egging someone’s house
- Darkly tinted windows
- Serving alcohol to your minor child
- Not legal. Not only do you need a license to drive, you’ve got to have it with you. If you’re pulled over, you’re required to produce it — along with vehicle registration and proof of insurance. If don’t have your license on you and a police officer has to look you up to make sure you’re licensed, you might get fined. The chances of that happening increase along with the number of driving infractions that got you pulled over in the first place.
- Sometimes legal. School zone speed limit requirements vary widely but are posted on the sign. Some lower the speed limit during specified hours of the day, others might say “when lights are flashing” or “when children are present.” That said, it’s not often that a driver is cited for a school zone infraction during the summer.
- Not legal. Just because Washington residents only get one tab for their license plate doesn’t mean they only need to have one plate. In both Idaho and Washington, vehicles need to have two plates, one in the front and one in the back. And no, dashboard displays don’t count.
- Not legal. Go make memories and enjoy the natural beauty in national and state parks, but commemorate your trip by taking only pictures. There are rules against collecting anything — rocks, shells, flowers, pine cones, feathers, grains of sand — from a national or state park — or from any park in Washington and Idaho, for that matter. So where can you collect these items? Call a national forest ranger station. Many national forests allow collection of certain items without a permit, but check with the place you’re visiting before you begin loading up with forest finds.
- Not legal. If your plans for summer fun include redecorating someone’s property with toilet paper or eggs, just know you could get hit with some citations for malicious injury to property, vandalism or littering. Toilet paper is a nuisance to clean up and eggs can cause permanent damage to paint, so give it some extra thought. Now, if the person receiving your redecoration efforts loves it as much as you do, no worries — but then, if that’s the look they want, they can probably do it themselves. The same can be said of graffiti, which is any mark made without permission on property that doesn’t belong to you. Also, covering “not nice” graffiti with “nice” graffiti is still graffiti.
- Not legal. As a general rule, if a police officer can’t see inside your car, your windows are too darkly tinted and you could get cited. This is intended to keep drivers safe in dark driving conditions, and officers and first responders safe during traffic stops. The legal degree to which windows can be tinted and how much is complex and varies in Washington and Idaho. To check compliance, local police department are able to measure tinting and clarify applicable laws. Not only can noncompliance get you cited, but in Idaho you can get fined for selling a vehicle with excess tinting.
- Sometimes legal in Washington, not legal in Idaho. In both Idaho and Washington, you can get into big trouble if you serve alcohol to anyone younger than 21. But Washington has an exception that allows parents to serve alcohol to their minor children as long as they remain present while it’s consumed. If it’s not your child, or you’re not planning to stick around, rethink your plan. You might want to rethink it anyway: Some studies show that those who wait until they’re 21 to drink alcohol are less likely to have unhealthy alcohol-related behaviors than those who indulge as minors under adult supervision.
- Legal. In general, you’re allowed to park your car and get on with your hanky panky, provided participants are of legal consenting age for sexual activity. But you’ve got to be smart about it. If anyone outside the vehicle sees more than they bargained for, you could get cited for indecency. Or, if you’re parking someplace you’re not supposed to park — on private property or a city park after it’s closed, for example — you could get cited for trespassing. And plan on possible interruptions. If an officer sees a suspect car, he or she is likely to check in and make sure no one younger than 16 is violating laws regarding curfew or consent.
7-8 answers right: You’re one astute citizen. Congratulations on state and city code familiarity — now all you have to do is follow it.
4-6 answers right: You’ve narrowly missed a citation or two. Good thing we’ve got you covered.
1-3 answers right: You’re lucky you’re not reading this from a jail cell. Time to brush up on your laws.