Is Hitchhiking illegal in the USA? State-by-State Analysis!!

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Is Hitchhiking Illegal in the USA? Hitchhiking is legal in 44 out of the 50 states of the United States of America. Hitchhiking is allowed as long as hitchhikers stay on the shoulders or sidewalks of the roadway. Hitchhikers are not allowed to stand on the main roadway as such action may result in the disruption of the normal traffic flow.

Many people including law enforcement officers think that hitchhiking is illegal in the USA, but, in reality, it is legal in most of the states of the USA. However, law enforcement and law enforcement officers’ behavior towards hitchhikers varies from state to state in the United States.

Sometimes you will easily hitchhike hundreds of miles without the intervention of the officers and sometimes Law enforcement officers will not even allow you to stand near the sideways of the interstate highways. Every state of the USA has different laws regarding hitchhiking and this is the reason why there is so much confusion about the legality of Hitchhiking in America.

Is Hitchhiking illegal in the USA?

Why there is so much Confusion about the Legality of Hitchhiking in the USA?

is hitchhiking illegal in the usa

If hitchhiking legal in most of the states of the USA, then, why there is so much confusion about the legality of hitchhiking in the USA?

Also, why so many people including law enforcement officers think that hitchhiking is illegal even though it is legal in most of the states of the USA?

 This confusion exists due to the misinterpretation of the law

The law states “No person shall stand in a roadway for a purpose of soliciting a ride”

After reading this law many people directly jump to the conclusion that hitchhiking is illegal as according to the law it is illegal to stand on the roadway for the purpose to get a ride. But, before drawing any conclusion you must know what is the definition of the roadway.

Definition of the roadway according to the law in the USA:-

“The roadway is the part of the highway improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the sidewalk, berm or shoulder.”

So, according to the definition of the roadway, sidewalks, berm, and shoulders are not part of the roadways.

It means, according to the law, it is illegal to walk or stand on the roadway but it is not illegal to stand or walk on the sidewalk, shoulder, or at ramp entrances of the roadway.

But, still, the interpretation of this law is different in every state when it comes to hitchhiking.  For example, in some states law enforcement officers believe that hitchhiking is illegal on the interstate highways, in some states officers believe hitchhiking is allowed on the interstate highways, and in some states including New York hitchhiking is completely illegal.

So, if you are planning to hitchhike through any state of the USA, you should read the laws of that state regarding hitchhiking before starting your journey.

I have done research on this topic to get a clear understanding of the legality of hitchhiking in different states of the USA. In this article, I have given the laws of the different states of the USA regarding hitchhiking.  So, by reading this article, you can find out in which state of the USA hitchhiking is legal and in which state hitchhiking is illegal.

👉🏻 Suggested read: How to Find a Perfect Spot to Start Hitchhiking: Step by step Guide!!

How Police Treat Hitchhikers in the USA?

So, what happens when Law enforcement officers approach hitchhikers in the USA? According to one report, most of the time, officers leave hitchhikers after giving some warnings. Hitchhikers rarely get ticketed.

I have already mentioned that when it comes to hitchhikers, the behavior of the law enforcement officers varies from state to state.

Sometimes they don’t care even if a hitchhiker is standing on the roadway and sometimes they can’t even tolerate hitchhikers on the sidewalks of the roadways.

Therefore, even though hitchhiking is legal in most of the states of the USA or even though you are planning to hitchhike in the state where hitchhiking is legal, always remember to stick around the sidewalks and shoulders of the roadway and try to stay away as long as possible from the main roadway.

There is a possibility that you may face the law enforcement officer if they find you standing on the roadway or hindering the flow of the traffic.

Laws of Different States regarding Hitchhiking in the USA

Is hitchhiking illegal in Texas?

Hitchhiking is legal in Texas. In Texas, pedestrians are allowed on nearly every road, including interstate highways, which is a big advantage for hitchhikers. Also,  nearly every highway in Texas has wide shoulders which provide sufficient space for drivers to pull over.  Hitchhiking is much easier in Texas as compared to the other states of the USA.

Is it illegal to hitchhike in New York?

Hitchhiking is illegal in New York.  In most states, it is not illegal to stand or walk on shoulders, sideways or on the ramp entrances, but in Newyork it is illegal to stand or walk on shoulders, sidewalks, or on the entrances of the major highways. Especially, it is prohibited to stand or walk on any portion of the Thruway system including toll plazas, entrances, and shoulders.

Is it illegal to hitchhike in California?

Hitchhiking is legal in California. In California, hitchhikers face fewer troubles as compare to other states as it is very rare in California that law enforcement officers will bother you for hitchhiking. But, remember to stay away from interstate highways as pedestrians are prohibited on all interstate highways in California.

Is it illegal to hitchhike in Florida?

Hitchhiking is legal in Florida. In Florida, pedestrians are prohibited to stand or walk on the portion of the roadway paved for vehicular traffic including shoulder and sidewalk. In other words, hitchhiking is possible as long as you stay on the on-ramps of the interstate highways

Is it illegal to do hitchhiking in Illinois?

Hitchhiking is illegal in Illinois. According to the law, hitchhiking is not legal in Illinois and anyone found on the roadway asking for the ride can be fined up to $2500. Illinois is one of the worst states for hitchhiking in the USA. 

Even if we read the experiences of other hitchhikers on the internet it becomes clear that the possibility of the encounter with law enforcement officers is much more in Illinois as compared to other states. Law enforcement officers of this state really don’t like hitchhikers.

Is it illegal to hitchhike in Tennessee?

Hitchhiking is illegal in Tennessee. According to the law, no one should stand or walk in a roadway for the purpose of asking for a ride from any vehicle. According to the Tennessee department of transportation, the definition of the roadway is the portion of highway intended for vehicular use. It means it is illegal to stand or walk even on the shoulder of the highway.

Is it illegal to hitchhike in Colorado?

Hitchhiking is legal in Colorado. Colorado is one of the best states to hitchhike in. According to law, pedestrians are allowed to stand on the shoulder or sideways unless they are not impeding the normal flow of the traffic and also it is allowed for drivers to pick up pedestrians if there is sufficient space for vehicles to pull over.

In other words, stay on the shoulders of the highway where there is sufficient space for drivers to pull over and you should be fine.

Is it illegal to hitchhike in Arizona?

Hitchhiking is legal in Arizona if you stay away from the traveled portion of the roadway. In Arizona, it is allowed for pedestrians to stand or walk on the sidewalks of the highway if the sidewalk is available and if the sidewalk is not available then pedestrians can walk on the roadway in the opposite direction of the traffic.

Is it illegal to hitchhike in Ohio?

Hitchhiking is legal in Ohio. Like many other states, it is not legal in Ohio to walk on the main roadway for the safety of both drivers and pedestrians. But, pedestrians can walk on the shoulders and sidewalks of the highway. If you stay on the shoulder and sidewalks of the highway without hindering the flow of traffic then you should be fine.

Is it illegal to hitchhike in New Jersey?

Hitchhiking is illegal in New Jersey.  Law enforcement officers in this state don’t like hitchhikers and they don’t hesitate to take strict action against hitchhikers. Begging rides on highways is prohibited in New Jersey. 

According to the law, the definition of the highway is the area intended for vehicular use including on-ramps and shoulders.  In other words, it is illegal to stand or walk even on shoulders or on-ramps in New Jersey.

Is it illegal to hitchhike in Wyoming?

Hitchhiking is legal in Wyoming. Wyoming has a very bad reputation for hitchhiking because many people think that hitchhiking is illegal in Wyoming, but it is not true. Hitchhiking was used to be illegal in Wyoming but now it is legal since 1 July 2013. So, unless you are aware of all safety precautions and you are not hindering the flow of traffic, it is legal to hitchhike in Wyoming.

Is it illegal to hitchhike in Virginia?

Hitchhiking is legal in Virginia. Like most of the other states, pedestrians are not allowed to walk on the roadway in Virginia but they are allowed to walk on shoulder or sidewalks of the highway.

Is it illegal to hitchhike in Arkansas?

Hitchhiking is illegal in Arkansas. Pedestrians are not allowed to walk on the roadways including shoulders and sidewalks. Pedestrians are prohibited on all interstate highways in Arkansas. Also, many roads in Arkansas lacks shoulders which makes it difficult for drivers to find sufficient space to pull over their vehicles.

Is it illegal to hitchhike in Pennsylvania?

Hitchhiking is illegal in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is one of the worst states for hitchhiking in the USA. According to the law, soliciting a ride or hitchhiking is prohibited in Pennsylvania, and stopping a vehicle for the purpose to give a ride to a hitchhiker is prohibited.

Is it illegal to hitchhike in Minnesota?

Hitchhiking is legal in Minnesota if you stay on the sidewalks and shoulders. Also, it is important to remember that hitchhiking is prohibited on the freeways in Minnesota.

Is it illegal to hitchhike in Georgia?

Hitchhiking is legal in Georgia.  You can use on-ramps, sidewalks, and shoulders for hitchhiking and try to stay away from the main road as far as possible. Keep in mind that hitchhiking on interstate highways is prohibited in Georgia.

Is it illegal to hitchhike in Washington?

Hitchhiking is legal in Washington.  While hitchhiking in Washington always remember to stay on the shoulders and leave sufficient space for vehicles to stop off the main road.

Is it illegal to hitchhike in Utah?

Hitchhiking is legal in Utah. Utah has a very good reputation for hitchhiking. Utah is one of the best places for hitchhiking in the USA. It is very rare in Utah to encounter a law enforcement officer for hitchhiking. According to the law, pedestrians can use sidewalks and shoulders if shoulders and sidewalks are available.

Conclusion

Hitchhiking is legal in most of the states of the USA and it is still possible. The problem lies in widespread confusion about the legality of hitchhiking due to the misinterpretation of the laws regarding hitchhiking.

It is also true that laws regarding hitchhiking change from state to state in the USA, and most law enforcement officers don’t like hitchhikers. So, before starting hitchhiking in any state of the USA, it is better to read the laws about hitchhiking in that state and the experiences of other hitchhikers to avoid any possible trouble while on your journey.

👉🏻 Suggested Read: 11 Safety Tips for an Amazing Hitchhiking Experience

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Chetan Patil

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