Summer may be a time to relax the rules, but it comes with plenty of its own. Guest blogger Jesse Londin fills us in on the hot and not-so-hazy laws that govern the dog days.
There are just two seasons: summer and wishing for summer. Wishing’s over, summer’s on!
As you fire up grills and bottle rockets, pitch tents and baseballs, cruise national parks, surf anything that moves, and dive into the closest thing that looks cool and wet, dip into some handy rules and regulations of summer life that can help you sail through the sizzling season without breaking a sweat.
Summer means big, all-American holidays. Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day—and don’t forget June 14th, Flag Day. As you rock an American flag, you bet your Yankee Doodle there’s federal flag law. In fact, the U.S. Code contains a whole chapter on Old Glory: 4 U.S.C. Chapter 1. Freedom to disregard the flag code? That’s American, too. The code basically serves as guidance and carries no criminal penalties.
Memorial Day marks the official beach-and-summer-house rental season. Time to get comfy with real estate issues that could throw a cold blanket on renting a cabin in the woods or a bungalow by the shore. Settle in with a roomful of information and resources on landlord-tenant law. Search for state-by-state tenant rights information from our friends at the the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Thinking of renting out your pad to offset your travel costs? Be careful: some cities have laws against it.
If you own a business, make sure you aren’t sitting solo in the office while your employees are off discovering themselves. Lay out your vacation policy up front. And make sure they aren’t mixing business with pleasure and leaving you on the hook for the bills. Oh, and if you’re lightening up your workload by bringing in unpaid summer interns, sometime before Labor Day you may have to work out a few issues with the U.S. Department of Labor.
Making a ruckus shooting off Fourth of July fireworks can be good, legal fun. When you play with fire, know the rules. All states except Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York allow some or all types of consumer fireworks that are lawful under federal regulations. Here’s a recap of state fireworks laws via the American Pyrotechnics Association.
July 4th is more than sizzle, sparkle and boom. When in the course of human events it becomes necessary to download apps of the Declaration of Independence for nerdy schwag at parades and picnics, go for it: iPhone or Android. Happy digital birthday, America!
Nothing says summer like a mayhem-filled road trip. If you’re hitting the open highway you can calculate your mileage and get tips on saving gas with a handy fuel economy app. But don’t check the app while driving. And don’t forget the speed limit. And the alcohol limit. And whatever you do, don’t stop for hitchhikers. Yes, you saw that movie.
Before you zoom out of town, tell the Post Office to hold your mail. This service doesn’t cost a stamp. But you still may have to answer your texts, e-mail and tweets.
For rod and reel enthusiasts, sports of the season are regulated locally. Hunt down and reel in your hunting and fishing licenses.
Fleeing the jurisdiction altogether and flying abroad? First you’ll need a passport. And if you’ve got kids who are traveling with only one parent—or if you’re sending them off with grandma for the summer—make sure you fill out a travel consent form to avoid any questions about parental permission.
Strip down and search the ever-changing rules regarding airport security procedures with the app from the Homeland Security Department’s Transportation Security Administration, My TSA (iPhone and Android).
Not every overseas destination is exactly Shangri-La. You’re probably not planning to drop in on any of the dangerous and unstable countries on the State Department’s travel warnings list, but check to make sure. Don’t forget to check on whether you’ll need a visa, required immunizations, health insurance for travelers. And always prepare for emergencies.
When you get to a host country that’s in good standing with the State Department you can always find U.S. embassies, consulates, and diplomatic missions. Better yet, when in Rome, or anywhere else, do what smart travelers do and make friends with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service for U.S. citizens traveling to, or living in, a foreign country.
Staying home? Everybody-into-the-pool law! Pool safety is regulated at the state and local level, but the feds made a splash with the Federal Pool and Spa Safety Act, which regulates potentially deadly pool drain covers. And rules under the American with Disabilities Act mandate public pools accommodate disabled swimmers. Practice pool safety and avoid unnecessary legal heat. And make sure your pools is hygienic with a pool service contract.
Beach law anyone? From the Surfrider Foundation’s Beachapedia, surf a squall of laws, regulations and policies in connection with public access to beaches and the coast. The Public Trust Doctrine protects your right to surf where you like. Hang five.
Summer is also the season of weddings and all the festivities that go along with nuptials. Marriage laws vary from state to state, and a dozen states have granted marriage rights to gay couples. The Supreme Court will rule next month on whether it’s unconstitutional to do otherwise. Here’s a bouquet of marriage and licensing laws via Rocket Lawyer. Congratulations, newlyweds!
Beer is the unofficial drink of the American summer. Well, one of them anyway. The Treasury’s Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Trade Bureau posts beer laws and regulations for big consumers of the frosty beverage. Guzzle responsibly.
If being out on the water floats your boat, take federal and state boating and navigation laws on deck with you. Like the Coast Guard says, boating under the influence is just as deadly—and illegal—as drinking and driving. Wear a life jacket, skipper. And sunblock.
Following laws and regulations associated with summer shouldn’t be like a bad day at camp. No worries. Take some time to just relax, stretch out on a lounge somewhere air conditioned and read a nice legal thriller. Or…something else.
Have an awesome and seemingly endless summer, from everyone here at Rocket Lawyer.
Be safe, be legal. And don’t forget to drop us a postcard!
- Renting with Airbnb or VRBO: Why You Should Think Twice (rocketlawyer.com)
- 5 Travel Fraud Schemes That Could Rip You Off (rocketlawyer.com)
- How to Freelance Your Way Around the World (rocketlawyer.com)