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Top 10 Holiday Travel Legal Tips

By Betty Wang, JD | Last updated on

Traveling for the holidays? If so, the last thing you'll want to deal with is trouble with the law.

Millions of Americans are driving, or taking planes, trains, and/or buses to visit friends and family for the holidays. While many accidents are out of your control, it's a good idea to be prepared for some common legal predicaments.

So before you cram all that fruitcake into your bag, here are 10 holiday travel legal tips to take along with you:

  1. Driving? Pack your car with proper supplies. Make sure that your car is loaded up with essential supplies such as a flashlight, road flares, and FindLaw's free guide called Motor Vehicle Accidents: First Steps, which includes a helpful checklist.
  2. Make sure you carry proof of car insurance. Not only should be insured, but you'll need to have proof of it on you while driving. If you don't, you could risk having your driver's license or vehicle registration suspended.
  3. Know your local cell phone-while-driving laws. Read up on the cell phone laws in the state(s) that you'll be driving through. Using a cell phone without a hands-free device and/or texting from behind the wheel can get you pulled over for distracted driving, and can lead to expensive fines in many jurisdictions.
  4. Check window tint laws. If your car windows are tinted, you may want to check the window tint laws in the state(s) you'll be driving through. While the tint level may be legal in your state, it may not be in some others.
  5. Allow time for rest. While driving well into the night may seem like an efficient way to get to your holiday destination faster, don't forget to rest. Drowsy driving can be very dangerous.
  6. Flying? You might be eligible for PreCheck. TSA's new expedited screening program, PreCheck, can make your screening process go much more quickly and smoother. So check to see if you're eligible.
  7. Be patient at the airport. The holidays are stressful for everyone, especially TSA agents and flight crew members, so try to be patient at the airport. In the event you're subjected to an overly intrusive pat-down or unlawfully discriminated against, know that there are processes in place for complaints and legal claims.
  8. Traveling with firearms? Aim for safety first. Know the laws about traveling with firearms, especially if you're driving -- many states have specific rules about how guns can be transported. Some modes of transportation, like Greyhound busses, generally don't allow guns, while airlines will require that you check all your firearms.
  9. Don't drink or do drugs and drive. Yes, this applies even if it's eggnog, and even if you're taking prescription medication.
  10. Be prepared if traveling w/pets. Traveling with a pet? Make sure you double-check the law -- you may need to quarantine your pet if flying or have a harness if driving, among other requirements.

Here's hoping your itineraries don't involve any run-ins with the law. Happy holidays and safe travels!

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