Oregon law gives a big thumbs-down to hitchhiking

I see people hitchhiking all the time, apparently with no concerns that they might be breaking the law. That made me wonder whether they are in fact breaking the law or if I've been operating under a false impression that it's illegal to stick out your thumb and hitch a ride.

— Katie L., Medford

No falsity in your impression, Katie. It is against state law to hitchhike in Oregon — at least while standing along a road — per Oregon Revised Statute 814.080, which reads:

1. A person commits the offense of unlawful hitchhiking if the person is on a roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride.

2. The offense described in this section, unlawful hitchhiking, is a Class D traffic violation.

While Oregon's law is shorter, if not sweeter, than those of other states, most of the state laws we looked up had similar restrictions against standing "on a roadway" while soliciting a ride. That does not mean, however, that it's illegal to solicit a ride while you're not standing on the road. (And in most cases, reference to road or roadway includes the shoulders).

We found a few states where hitchhiking is allowed, with some minor restrictions, including Missouri, Oklahoma and South Dakota. A few states also made provisions allowing hitchhiking by people whose vehicles had broken down.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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