Idaho may not have the busiest railroads in America, but multiple rail companies operate in the state. Aside from the usual passenger carriers, many freight carriers pass through the state as part of their distribution routes.
For teenagers – and perhaps for some reckless adults as well – it might sound like a fun idea to hitch a ride on one of these freight trains. But not only is this very dangerous, it’s a criminal offense under Idaho law.
State law on stealing a train ride
Under state law, anyone who rides or attempts to ride any railroad train, locomotive or any type of train without paying for any tickets for a passenger train or while not an employee of a freight or rail company can be charged with a misdemeanor. The law also doesn’t make a distinction between those who manage to steal a ride on a train car or those who latch themselves onto the train’s exterior since both are charged similarly.
The law also gives railroad conductors and engineers authority to arrest train stowaways without a warrant and deliver the offenders to any peace officer.
Those convicted of stealing a ride on a train will face a prison sentence of up to 30 days and a maximum fine of $60. These penalties may sound like a slap on the wrist compared to the punishments for more serious crimes, but the conviction will remain on a person’s criminal record.
In summary, stealing a train ride is a crime. Anyone who faces charges or has a relative or child arrested for the offense should consider seeking legal counsel. No matter how small a crime may be, having a misdemeanor on record can affect a person’s future employment or educational opportunities.