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Skateboarding Laws

By law, skateboarders are expected to obey the rules of the road, just like motorists or pedestrians. If you skate, you should know your local skateboarding laws and regulations. This will help you avoid harm or injury to yourself and others, as well as fines and other penalties.

Skateboarding rules can vary depending on your area. Individual states, cities, and other municipalities set their own laws for skateboards. Because skateboarding is inherently dangerous, these laws regulate and control skateboarding in certain locations and circumstances.

For some, skateboarding is an enjoyable pastime. For others, it may be a necessary mode of transportation. It is also a popular extreme sport in some areas, recognized in competitions like the X Games. Whether you skateboard for recreation or rely on it for transportation, this article will help you understand the laws in place and how to avoid a fine.

Skateboarding and General Traffic Laws

Skateboarding laws are regulated by state and local ordinances. You'll usually find them within a jurisdiction's health and safety code or state traffic laws. They differ from state to state and town to town. The laws applying to skateboarders are often grouped with laws affecting other groups, including:

  • Bicyclists
  • Scooter riders
  • Rollerbladers, in-line skaters, and those on roller skates
  • Operators of toy vehicles and similar devices
  • Pedestrians

Since many local traffic laws consider skateboards a form of transportation (similar to a bicycle), skaters typically must follow certain traffic rules. These can include:

Some laws target skateboarders specifically, like local ordinances that prohibit skateboarding in bike lanes or on sidewalks. Cities can choose the guidelines that best fit their safety needs and infrastructure. For example, New York City requires skateboarders and in-line skaters to use a designated bike/skate lane. If there is not a designated lane, skaters must stay as far to the right side of the street as safely possible.

Other local ordinances can include details on:

  • Designated skateboarding areas
  • Guidelines for riding skateboards with or against vehicular traffic
  • Restrictions on skateboarding in business districts, certain public property, and parking lots
  • Regulations for skateboarding on a sidewalk
  • Designated distance from the curb that skateboarders must maintain

Rules will vary depending on your location. To stay safe and avoid a citation, check local ordinances before skateboarding, and follow all traffic regulations.

What Exactly Do Skateboarding Laws Prohibit?

Some skateboarding laws restrict or prohibit skateboarding based on several factors, including:

  • Time of day
  • Manner of skateboarding activity
  • Age of rider
  • Location

For example, one town may only allow skateboarding from 30 minutes after dawn to 30 minutes before dusk. Another town may limit skating to certain areas like sidewalks in residential areas.

Some laws restrict reckless skateboarding behavior, such as skating at excessive speeds, dangerous stunts, or skating in crowded areas.

Some municipalities may only allow people of a certain age to skateboard in public, while others may ban skateboarding entirely. Some cities have rules in place that restrict skateboarding to those 12 years of age or older. Others have deemed skateboarding off-limits on commercial property.

Many states and cities require helmets and other safety gear to be worn at all times. Most jurisdictions post notice of such requirements in areas skateboarders often use, like skate parks and other public places.

Property Owners and Landowner Liability Issues

Landowner liability for injuries stemming from skateboarding is an important concern. Often, skateboarders who are injured on public or private property may hold a landowner liable for their damages or injuries. Under a premises liability theory, a public or private landowner may be liable for injuries that occur on their property, especially if the injuries were "foreseeable." This includes cases in which a minor (or underage person) was invited onto private property.

While some states have enacted specific laws arising out of what they deem "hazardous recreational activities," others have included skateboarding within more general immunity laws. Immunity laws aim to shield landowners from liability lawsuits arising from individuals voluntarily engaging in a certain activity.

Skateboarding Dangers and Injuries

Skateboarding injuries account for thousands of injuries each year, most involving children. Scooters and hoverboards contribute to the trend, too. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 230,000 people with skateboarding-related injuries received emergency treatment at hospitals in 2022 alone. Of those injuries, more than 3 in 10 involved children under the age of 15. Some of the most common types of injuries include sprains, fractures (head, knee, and leg), contusions, and abrasions. Skateboarding deaths can result from car collisions and serious falls.

The CPSC lists several factors contributing to injuries, including:

  • Lack of protective equipment
  • Poor board maintenance
  • Irregular or hazardous riding surfaces

The CPSC also notes that some riders do not always have the necessary balance to prevent sudden injuries from impacts and falls.

To help consumers avoid skateboarding-related injury, the CPSC offers the following tips:

  • Avoid risky behavior, and "ride wisely."
  • Don't drink before or while skating.
  • Carefully inspect your skateboard and terrain for potential safety issues before riding.
  • Never hitch a ride behind a car, bus, truck, or bicycle.
  • Always wear protective safety gear, including helmets, knee pads, and elbow pads that meet current U.S. safety standards.
  • Ride during daylight hours.
  • Use reflectors and reflective safety equipment if visibility is low.

Penalties for Skateboarding Law Violations

If a skateboarder violates a local ordinance, they can be issued a traffic ticket or cited for property damage. If a skateboarder inadvertently injures someone, they can face even more serious legal implications, including criminal charges and civil liability.

Penalties for skateboarding violations vary and typically include:

  • Written and verbal warnings
  • Fines
  • Arrest charges (in rare cases)

Penalties depend on whether the violation is an infraction (most cases) or misdemeanor. Repeat offenses may bring tougher consequences.

In some situations, law enforcement may be able to confiscate your skateboard. This can happen if the board has been involved in illegal activity or used in violation of local laws. For example, if a skateboard is connected to a crime, police can take it as evidence or as part of the investigative process. In some situations, skateboards can also be legally confiscated for public safety concerns.

Legal Advice for Skateboarding Offenses

While skateboarding can be a fun and practical activity, it is essential to follow local laws to stay safe and avoid a ticket. If you have been cited for a skateboard-related violation, contact a traffic ticket lawyer to learn more. An attorney knowledgeable about your state traffic laws and local ordinances can review your citation and help you contest it in court.

If you are facing a civil lawsuit or personal injury claim, consider talking to a personal injury defense attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer with experience in this area can help protect your interests and potentially minimize or dismiss claims against you.

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