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Do you know why I pulled you over?

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By Craig Howie
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(AOL Autos) -- Some antiquated state driving laws are flat-out crazy. Got a housecoat? If you're a woman, it's illegal to wear one while driving in California. But what about modern rules of the road that seem very unusual and can still result in a hefty fine?

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In California, no vehicle without a driver may exceed 60 miles per hour. But who gets the ticket?

We've collated some of the more irregular and disputed road laws from around the nation and have included, at the end, some of the more bizarre contributions that have kept our roads the safest in the world. Ahem.

Driving too slowly

In some states, including California, a dawdling motorist can be cited for driving too slowly. Police Officer Pete Kim of the California Highway Patrol says that while it's not common, you could get a ticket if, "you're blocking traffic or creating a road hazard on the freeway." He mentions a couple reasons why someone would drive that slowly. The car could be suffering engine trouble or the driver could be impaired, for example. Both will likely attract the attention of a police officer.

Drivers on city or rural roads are not exempt, says Police Officer Kim. He adds, "Just about anywhere, if you're in the middle of an intersection or on a regular two-lane street and the speed limit is 45 [mph] and you're doing 10 [mph] for no good reason, you can be cited for impeding traffic."

Slow driving laws are enforced in most states, including Florida, Nevada, Alaska and Hawaii, where tourists can be most at risk from the police scanner. You should also beware of rubbernecking accidents or police lights, which, while non-ticketable in most cases, doesn't particularly help traffic cops do their jobs.

Red-light running

Garland, Texas motorist Noel Hillis was ticketed by cameras earlier this month for running a red light. He told local station CBS11 that he crossed the stop line as the light was turning red, but that at his hearing the police officer gave him a different characterization of the stop line. The police officer says the stop line is a lateral line parallel to the curb of the cross street or, "ten feet farther out than where it actually starts." Texas law states that the violation line is at the stop line before the crosswalk.

The editor of road campaign site www.highwayrobbery.net, a businessman and activist who requested anonymity, tells AOL Autos, "The law, as I understand it, is that you're okay to proceed across the line if you can get any bit of your car ahead of the line. Typically the limit line is the first line you come to if there's a crosswalk -- which are sometimes surprisingly wide -- so the crosswalk can end up being 10 to 15 feet from the curbs of the crossing street. Somebody looked at the pictures and realized that cities were using an imaginary line, sometimes that of the curb, that you have to get part of your car over to not get a ticket, an extra 12-foot zone."

The governor of Texas has said he will sign a bill later this year to clear up confusion after scores of motorists' complaints concerning crossing of violation lines, which is usually a civil offense.

Animals and cars

London couple Yisroel Singer, 26, and his wife Goldie, 25, say they were the victims of a "cultural misunderstanding" after they were arrested and held in New York several years ago. They had left their six-month-old daughter in the car while they went to Green Acres mall. They said nobody in Britain would condemn their actions, but under U.S. law, they faced a sentence of one year for child endangerment if they were found guilty. The case was eventually dropped.

Now it's illegal in many states to leave an animal alone in a car, and with good reason. The Animal Law Coalition points out that, even with the vehicle's windows left slightly open, an outside temperature of 85 degrees can cause a temperature of 102 degrees inside a vehicle within 10 minutes, and 120 degrees within half of an hour. As dogs breathe differently from humans, their central nervous systems can be overwhelmed in less than 15 minutes from excessive heat.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger last year signed into law Bill SB1806, which bans owners from leaving animals unattended in a motor vehicle "under conditions that endanger the health or well being of an animal due to heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, or lack of food or water, or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering, disability, or death to the animal." First-time violators are fined $100, with a second offense garnering a possible six-month jail term.

Also remember, smoking with children of car-seat age in the car will draw you heat in Texas, Vermont, Washington, Arkansas and Louisiana among others. As of yet, there is no law about smoking with pets in the car.

Carpool violations

Several states face the thorny issue of their carpool lanes moving too slowly. Some carpoolers have accused single-occupant hybrid drivers of soft-pedaling to save gas. But from California to the D.C. Beltway, it seems the sheer volume of cars using the carpool lanes has slowed the lanes enough to almost destroy the incentive of car-pooling or owning a hybrid car.

California is considering allowing motorists to exit and enter the carpool lane at will, when previously crossing the double yellow was an offense. The state transportation agency has warned against increasing the occupancy of carpool cars from two to three in Los Angeles, like it is in San Francisco.

Beware that buying an easily recognizable hybrid such as a Prius now does not mean automatic rights to use the carpool lane, at least in the Golden State. This is something police officers are well aware of given the recent shortage of available hybrid permits. The black market for scarce carpool lane exemptions has put up to a $5,000 premium on sales of used Prius that carry the exemption sticker.

The ridiculous

An assortment of seemingly crazy state driving laws exists and can be found easily across the Internet. Most of these examples are sourced from newspapers and come from the site www.dumblaws.com, whose editors did not respond to a call for comment. Here goes:

In California, no vehicle without a driver may exceed 60 miles per hour.

In Florida, if an elephant, goat or alligator is left tied to a parking meter, the parking fee has to be paid just as it would for a vehicle.

In Montana, it is illegal to have a sheep in the cab of your truck without a chaperone.

In Oregon, a door on a car may not be left open longer than necessary.

In Tennessee, it is illegal shoot any game other than whales from a moving automobile.

Good luck finding a whale in Tennessee! E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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