If we all live in the same country, the United States of America, why do laws differ from state to state? It can be confusing. There are actually two different sets of laws; federal laws and state laws. Federal laws are generally for the entire country. They are effective in all states. Constitutional law permits each state to create and enforce additional laws for their state. Each state is considered sovereign and has the power to create laws as needed.
Each state is considered unique with its own characteristics. Some of the characteristics that might cause a state to need laws of its own may be for geographic resources or natural resources. For instance, Florida may have laws governing beach access where Idaho would have no need for this. Colorado may have laws dealing with ski slope operations where Louisiana would never need this. The population demographics are another reason for individual state laws. So are public policies and any community standards.
Some state laws that differ from state to state are gun control laws, custody laws, divorce laws, motor carrier laws, business laws and marriage laws. Gun laws and same sex marriage laws have most recently been in the news. Both of these topics are controversial and hotly debated. What is legal in one state may not be in the next. When cell phones were becoming popular, it would be common for drivers to engage in conversations while driving. Little by little individual states began to ban cell phone use while driving. You could start the day driving in Maine, where cell phone use was acceptable and end up getting a ticket in Massachusetts where it may not be legal.
Various licenses differ from state to state as well. Some states may not have a requirement for a fishing license while the next one does. Licenses for nursing may require different education and skills. Licenses for a lawyer may be different. A lawyer will have to get a license to practice in each state he wants to work in. Even emergency medical technicians have different licenses depending on the state. The requirements and training may differ.
It’s always a smart idea to check any differences in law when visiting another state. Don’t assume that you can turn right on red everywhere just because you can in your home state. You may be in for an expense lesson, a ticket.