Is It Illegal to Jaywalk?

Crosswalks take so much time to change and you get that constant “wait” ringing in your ears before it turns into the walking symbol. This is why at time’s I’ve crossed the street half way in middle of the block when I saw there was no oncoming traffic. Though it felt safe at the time, was it legal to Jaywalk? After doing some digging, this is what I’ve found out!

Yes, in many cities it’s illegal to Jaywalk. This is because jaywalking is considered a safety hazard, as it puts pedestrians at risk of being hit by cars or other vehicles. Some cities also have laws against jaywalking in certain areas or during certain times of day, such as near schools or busy intersections. However, there is no universal law against jaywalking across all jurisdictions. Some cities may ticket or fine jaywalkers, while others may simply give them a warning.

Continue reading to learn more about jaywalking, it’s penalties, and how to cross a intersection legally.

What Is Jaywalking?

Jaywalking is the act of crossing a street in an area where it is not permitted or authorized, typically done in a reckless or careless manner. There are no specific laws that prohibit jaywalking, but many jurisdictions do impose fines on those who engage in this type of behavior.

For example, let’s say you want to cross the street instead of walking half a block to the crosswalk that the city had designed. While you could see no traffic coming and you feel it would be safe, this could be considered jaywalking and is illegal in many places.

Why Is Jaywalking Dangerous?

Jaywalking is considered a safety hazard, as it puts pedestrians at risk of being hit by cars or other vehicles. Not only is this dangerous for the pedestrian, but drivers may be put in danger as well. Additionally, jaywalking is often discouraged in areas where there are higher volumes of traffic, so those who do choose to cross unsafely may face fines or other penalties.

When Did Jaywalking Become Illegal?

Despite the fact that there is no specific law against jaywalking, many jurisdictions have implemented fines and other penalties for this type of behavior. The first recorded instance of jaywalking being penalized is believed to be in New York City in 1903, when a man was fined $2 for crossing 3rd Avenue between 99th and 100th street. Since then, jaywalking has been increasingly regulated and enforced by various city councils, police departments, and other law enforcement agencies.

What Are the Punishments for Jaywalking?

While the exact punishment for jaywalking varies from place to place, fines and other penalties are typically imposed on those who engage in this type of behavior. It is common for violators to be issued a citation with a fine ranging anywhere from $50-$100, though more serious cases may result in higher penalties or even jail time. Additionally, some cities may also impose points on your driver’s license, which is typically done for more serious traffic violations such as speeding or running a red light.

When Is It Legal to Jaywalk?

While it may be illegal in many developed towns and cities, not all have the infastructure to offer crosswalks and safe crossings. This is where you’ll find city codes like in Kansas where it states that if a cross walk or sidewalk isn’t available to walk towards traffic and cross when you feel it is safe.

Though when one isn’t available is the main phrase. If you get caught with a crosswalk in visible distance then you might get in trouble when you thought you were safe.

How to Cross A Intersection Legally

If you want to cross a street or intersection safely and legally, there are several steps that you can take.

  1. Always look both ways before crossing and make sure that it is safe to proceed. If you’re not at an official crosswalk, wait for the traffic signal to turn green or for a gap in the traffic before stepping into the street.
  2. Try to cross the street or intersection at a diagonal rather than straight on, as this is typically safer and will reduce your risk of getting hit by a car.
  3. Always walk with purpose when crossing the street. Avoid looking at your phone or texting while crossing, and make sure to remain alert and vigilant at all times.


Whether you’re in a city or small town, it is important to follow traffic laws and use caution when crossing the street. To do this safely and legally, it is important to always look both ways before crossing, wait for an appropriate gap in traffic, and cross at a diagonal if possible. Additionally, it is crucial to stay alert while crossing and avoid distractions such as texting or using your phone. With these tips in mind, you can safely cross the street and avoid getting fined or penalized for jaywalking.