When it Is Illegal to Use Pepper Spray
While it is legal to use and carry pepper spray in all 50 states, it is still considered a weapon, so you have to be careful about when and how you use it. Improper use of pepper spray can lead to a heavy fine or even arrest. However, if you familiarize yourself with your local laws and only use pepper spray during true emergencies, then you won’t have to worry about being charged with misconduct.
When You Can Use Pepper Spray
Most states’ self-defense laws state that a person can use “proportionate and necessary force” if they believe that their life is in danger.
If you hurt or even kill an attacker, you have to be able to justify the actions you took to defend yourself, which is why it is important only to use pepper spray when you are sure you are being threatened by another person or animal. If you act too quickly, using pepper spray could be considered aggravating the circumstances and even lead to charges of battery and assault.
As long as you are using your pepper spray in self-defense without any malice or intent to hurt someone, you shouldn’t have a problem. Like any weapon, use pepper spray cautiously and only for the purposes of defending yourself against an attacker.
Where and When You Can Carry Pepper Spray
It is legal in all states to carry a small amount of pepper spray on your person as long as it is to be used in self-defense and you are over 18. Pepper spray also cannot be taken aboard commercial airlines, and it is considered a federal crime to do so.
It is important to note that while most states don’t have specific guidelines about where you can and cannot carry pepper spray, there are some that do. For example, Alaska prohibits carrying pepper spray in a school if you are under the age of 18. Other states that have specific pepper spray restrictions include:
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- Washington State
To learn more about these specific states’ pepper spray guidelines, visit our page on pepper spray state laws.
Even if your state of residence isn’t listed, it’s still a good idea to check with local law enforcement to make sure you’re familiar with what is considered the illegal use of pepper spray. Since it is classified as a weapon, it’s safest to make sure you know how to properly use pepper spray in the case of an emergency.