America has had a long, complicated history with hitchhiking dating back before the automobile. Decades ago, it was an acceptable form of travel with neither driver nor passenger worrying about their own safety or criminality.
Like most other aspects of life, things have changed substantially since then.
Maybe you’re considering travel by hitching yourself, or perhaps you’ve thought about picking someone up hitching while traveling on the interstate. Either way, you’re probably wondering whether or not hitchhiking is legal.
Except for national parks, there are no federal laws in the United States that restrict the ability to hitchhike. However, each state has hitchhiking laws that may restrict or outright ban the practice. As of 2021, hitchhiking is only illegal in Delaware, Idaho, Nevada, New Jersey, and Utah.
With that being said, the specific laws in each state can be unfriendly to would-be hitchhikers. I’ve compiled a list of hitchhiking laws for every US state. Let’s dig in and see what the rules are across America.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and the following is not legal advice. I have made every effort to ensure that the information below is accurate, but it’s given without any guarantee.
Generally, hitchhiking in Alabama is only explicitly illegal when the hitchhiker is standing on the road, as explained by Alabama Code 32-5A-216. However, local laws and ordinances may be stricter.
Hitchhiking in Alaska is only explicitly illegal when the hitchhiker solicits a ride “in a manner which distracts a driver’s attention.” In other words, Alaska’s 13 AAC 02. 180 only prevents someone from soliciting a ride when being obnoxious or drawing unreasonable attention to themselves.
Hitchhiking in Arizona is legal, provided a few conditions are met — you must remain on the sidewalk if one is available, walk on the left side of the highway (going toward traffic) if possible, and never stand in the middle of the road to solicit a ride.
It is completely legal to hitchhike in Arkansas as long as you avoid standing in the middle of the roadway. As always, local laws and regulations may differ in certain towns and cities.
Generally, hitchhiking in California is considered legal. However, California Vehicle Code 22520.5 prohibits soliciting services near a shoulder or highway. Some hitchhikers have reported being harassed under that statute, claiming that soliciting a ride is soliciting a service.
Hitchhiking is generally legal throughout Colorado, provided the hitchhiker is not standing in the middle of the road. Local municipalities often outlaw the practice but are required by the state to post notices when hitchhiking is disallowed.
In Connecticut, hitchhiking is legal as long as you aren’t on the traveled part of the highway. However, if you are caught soliciting a ride on the highway, it is considered an infraction with a penalty of $35.
Hitchhiking is completely illegal in Delaware state-wide, but you can’t reportedly be jailed for only hitchhiking. This means that to be jailed, one would have to be breaking another law in the process. However, I would avoid taking the risk and avoid hitchhiking in Delaware.
Generally, hitchhiking is considered legal in Florida, but the law is written leaves enforcement open to interpretation. If you are told not to hitchhike in Florida, it’s best to move on to another city.
Georgia allows hitchhiking state-wide as long the person soliciting a ride is not standing in the middle of a roadway. As with other states, local laws and regulations may prohibit the practice.
Technically, hitchhiking is illegal across the state of Hawaii. However, there exists a provision in the law that allows counties to override the state. Maui County is the only county that lacks such a provision, making hitchhiking illegal there. However, Honolulu County is the only county that explicitly allows hitchhiking, overruling the state law.
The other counties of Hawaii seem to be somewhere in the middle of Maui and Honolulu counties.
According to the law, Hitchhiking is completely illegal in Idaho — you cannot solicit rides from the shoulder or the berm. Reportedly, enforcement of this law varies depending on where you are in the state. However, nowhere in Idaho explicitly permits hitchhiking of any kind.
In Illinois, hitchhiking is legal statewide as long as you’re not standing in the middle of the roadway or on a highway. Many hitchhikers report success in Illinois by soliciting rides at truck stops and on-ramps.
As with other states, Hitchhiking in Indiana is only illegal if you’re standing in the middle of the roadway to solicit a ride. However, Indiana does have a provision that allows hitchhiking in the middle of a roadway in the case of an emergency.
Generally, Iowa state law is favorable to hitchhikers. However, legislators were aware of previous attempts by law enforcement to stretch the definition of “roadway.” Hence, they changed the law to legalize hitchhiking from the non-traveled portion of the road expressly.
Hitchhiking in Kansas can be illegal depending on the municipality the pedestrian is located. The Kansas League of Municipalities declares hitchhiking illegal in all cities that adopt its code. Generally, hitchhiking outside city limits will be legal as long as you aren’t standing in a roadway.
Hitchhiking in Kentucky is legal as long as you stay on the shoulder of the road or are otherwise not standing in the middle of the roadway.
Hitchhiking in Louisiana is only illegal when a pedestrian is soliciting a ride while standing on a roadway. So as long as the hitchhiker stays on the shoulder of the road, they should be within the bounds of the law.
Hitchhiking is legal in the state of Maine, but the law has a provision that enables municipalities to prohibit or regulate hitchhiking as they see fit. If a locality puts restrictions on hitchhiking, the state law mandates that the area be clearly identified by signage. However, it is illegal to hitchhike on the turnpike.
Similar to other states, hitchhiking in Maryland is legal as long as the pedestrian stays to the shoulder or the berm. The law says you cannot stand in the roadway to solicit a ride unless it is an emergency.
Hitchhiking in Massachusetts is always illegal on the Massachusetts Turnpike, per 730 CMR. However, hitchhiking may be legal elsewhere, provided that local laws and ordinances don’t restrict the practice. As always, stay out of the traveled portion of the roadway.
Generally, the state of Michigan considers hitchhiking legal as long as the hitchhiker stays off of the main roadway — especially when a sidewalk is present. However, the legality varies wildly from township to township, and hitchhikers also report varied enforcement of the existing laws.
In Minnesota, hitchhiking is generally legal as long as the hitchhiker is not standing in the roadway. However, be mindful of “no pedestrians” signs on the side of the road around the Twin Cities, which will prohibit one from hitchhiking.
Hitchhiking is generally legal across Mississippi, as long as a person does not stand directly in the roadway.
Hitchhiking in Missouri is legal state-wide, except for the town of Mexico, Missouri. The state is unique, as they haven’t adopted any vehicle code prohibiting pedestrians from soliciting rides on the roadway. They even allow pedestrians on the interstate.
It’s no surprise that experienced hitchhikers consider Missouri one of the most friendly states for pedestrian travelers.
Hitchhiking in Montana is generally legal provided that the pedestrian is not standing in the road. However, the high speed limit of the state means you would want to stay far off the traveled portion anyway.
In Nebraska, hitchhiking is considered legal as long as the individual is not walking in the middle of the roadway. The state is reportedly very friendly to hitchhikers, with many stories of state police giving travelers rides to the next town.
Hitchhiking in Nevada is technically legal, but surrounding laws makes the practice legally impractical and open to interpretation. Oddly, walking on the interstate is actually legal, but only if there are no sidewalks available and as long as the pedestrian walks toward traffic (this is not conducive for hitchhiking).
In New Hampshire, hitchhiking is legal only when the pedestrian walks off of the traveled roadway. It is considered a very hitchhiker-friendly state.
New Jersey is one of a handful of states that have made hitchhiking completely illegal. Enforcement is also rigorous across the state.
Like many other states, it is legal to hitchhike in New Mexico as long as the traveler avoids standing in the middle of the roadway.
New York State
Unlike New Jersey, hitchhiking in New York state is generally legal as long as you don’t stand in the roadway. However, there exists explicit language against hitchhiking on any portion of the Thruway system.
North Carolina explicitly legalizes hitchhiking as long as the hitchhiker does not impede regular traffic flow and avoids standing in the middle of a roadway. Therefore, hitchhiking in North Carolina is illegal on all interstates but is legal from highway shoulders.
Hitchhiking in North Dakota is legal as long as the traveler does not stand or walk in the middle of the road.
Hitchhiking is legal in Ohio, provided that the pedestrian stays off the traveled portion of the ride. However, it is explicitly illegal to ride in the back of trucks.
While Oklahoma is a difficult place to hitchhike, it’s not illegal to hitchhike there. No real state laws exist except for 47-11-1401-D1 — which prohibits traveling on a turnpike on foot. You can find a full reading of the traffic code.
Hitchhiking is generally legal in Oregon, and you are permitted to walk and solicit rides from the freeway, unlike most other states. However, as with many other states, it’s illegal to solicit a ride while in the middle of a roadway.
In Pennsylvania, hitchhiking is generally legal as long as the traveler isn’t walking on the highway. Additionally, Pennsylvania is reasonably friendly toward hitchhikers.
In Rhode Island, hitchhiking is legal as long as the hitchhiker isn’t traveling or standing in the road.
Hitchhiking in South Carolina is only illegal when the person hitchhiking is standing or walking directly in the roadway. However, fines are generally high when a person does get cited.
South Dakota has no observed laws on hitchhiking that we found. As long as someone is walking on the side of the road or sticking to on-ramps, they should be within the bounds of the law.
Hitchhiking in Tennessee is expressly illegal in state parks but otherwise legal across the state. The exception is when the pedestrian is standing or walking directly in the roadway — this is always illegal.
Texas is yet another state where hitchhiking is legal as long as the hitchhiker is not standing in the road.
Hitchhiking is explicitly illegal in Utah, according to the law. However, many hitchhikers report lax enforcement and thumb their way through the state with regularity.
Vermont is another state where hitchhiking is legal as long as you’re not standing directly in the road.
Hitchhiking in Virginia is legal provided that the pedestrian is not standing or stopping directly in the roadway.
Hitchhiking in Washington state is legal, with a few exceptions. It’s forbidden alongside freeways, within “limited access facilities”, and any location with posted “no thumbing” signs. Additionally, the law explicitly states that you cannot solicit a ride anywhere that a vehicle cannot stop safely.
Like most other states, hitchhiking in West Virginia is illegal with the exception of when the pedestrian is standing in the middle of a roadway.
Hitchhiking in Wisconsin is completely legal with two exceptions. For one, you cannot solicit a ride while standing in the roadway. Additionally, a quirk in the language of the law makes it technically illegal to hitchhike from sidewalks. But, reportedly, this is rarely enforced.
Hitchhiking was illegal in Wyoming until 2013 when the state legislature passed a law expressly allowing the practice. As a result, you can now hitchhike across the state of Wyoming, barring any local laws and regulations.
Hitchhiking is generally prohibited in national parks across the nation, except when in designated areas. This is recorded in the Code of Federal Regulations Title 36 section 4.31.