Owning, purchasing, associating with skateboarders, giving someone a skateboard, and riding a skateboard are all legal actions.
Skateboarding is not illegal, but breaking the law is like:
- Not Following Bylaws and Restrictions
- Disobeying Curfew Bylaws
- Skateboarding in “No Skate Zones”
Look through your local, municipal, state/provincial, or federal laws, and you will not (likely) find skateboarding listed as an illegal, or criminal activity.
Crimes are listed with their respective definitions, and consequences for committing the crime. Skateboarding itself is not listed as a crime in any law book.
A crime is defined in the dictionary as an illegal act for which someone can be punished by the government; especially: a gross violation of the law.
Why are there signs up on private and public properties which say “Skateboarding Prohibited” or “Skateboarders are subject to a fine”? Let’s dive deeper.
Why Do skaters get in trouble for skateboarding?
While simply riding a skateboard is not a crime, there are things that skateboarders do, and places they skate, which are illegal. We will look at some of these in greater detail:
Trespassing has long been associated with skateboarding, dating back to the days of the Z-Boys from Venice Beach who would skate in drained backyard pools.
During the 1990s, the lack of skateparks made it common for skaters to use private properties. Trespassing is defined as entering someone’s property without permission and is illegal.
While some might downplay the severity of this act, property owners often perceive it as a violation of their space.
The negative image of skaters can also stem from potential vandalism or past negative encounters. Trespassing can result in fines and varying penalties.
Skaters are advised against trespassing and should instead seek permission from property owners before skating on private land. If granted access, respecting the property is paramount.
2. Not Following Bylaws and Restrictions
Skateboarding itself is not illegal, but where you can ride varies by location. While skateparks are designated for this purpose, rules about skateboarding on sidewalks, streets, or other public areas differ by city or town.
In some cities, skateboarding is prohibited in the downtown area except for “Exclusive Bike Lanes.” Performing tricks is only allowed in skateparks, even outside the downtown region.
3. Disobeying Curfew Bylaws
Skateboarders, like others, must adhere to city curfew bylaws which dictate how late individuals can be outdoors. These bylaws vary by city.
Skateparks also have operational hours, so one should be aware of those. While some skateboarders enjoy nighttime rides, you need to be aware of curfew hours.
If caught by the police after curfew, being respectful and explaining the situation usually results in a warning and advice to head home.
4. Skating in “No Skate Zones”
Many places display signs like “Skateboarding Forbidden” indicating “No Skate Zones”. Skating in these areas, despite the signs, is illegal.
Even without signs, features like capped ledges or rails with skate stoppers signal no-skate zones. It’s wise to heed these signs to avoid run-ins with law enforcement or security.
Such signs are common around government buildings, universities, malls, and schools. Ironically, these zones often have appealing skate terrain. They’re typically located in high-traffic areas.
Vandalism is defined as willful damage or destruction to public or private property. Skateboarding can cause damage to objects, and skateboarders can be viewed as vandals by non-skaters.
No matter how hard you try and avoid damaging obstacles, if you skate something enough, it will likely become damaged.
When you do a slappy grind on a freshly painted curb, you will wear some of the paint off. If you do it enough, you may eventually break up the concrete.
While you may not intentionally be vandalizing the object, others, especially those people that would report you to police, may see it differently.
Skateboarding is not a crime nor illegal. You are free to buy, own, share and ride a skateboard. There are places that you are permitted to skate, and places that you aren’t.
To avoid getting in trouble with law enforcement, security and property owners, it is important to not skate where forbidden.
Great street spots are wonderful to find but be mindful of trespassing, and bylaws in the towns or cities you are skating in, and what the curfew restrictions might be.
If you happen to get confronted by enforcement, or property owners, don’t cause a scene; be respectful and leave the property. We all love skating, and we would all hate it if Skateboarding Became A Crime.