What Are the Laws on Spitting in Public?

Although spitting in public is not regulated in most places in the United States, certain jurisdictions have enacted their own laws against this practice. Daytona Beach bans spitting on streets, sidewalks, or in public buildings within city limits, as reported by CityLab.com. Penalties include fines up to $500 and a maximum jail sentence of 60 days. Other jurisdictions that ban public spitting include Richmond, Virginia; Dayton, Ohio; and Burlingame, California.

Numerous individuals have been arrested for spitting in public, though the circumstances are usually aggravated by concurrent disorderly conduct. A man in Lakeland, Florida, was arrested in 2012 for spitting out chewing tobacco on a curb in front of police officers, reports The Tampa Tribune. In 2014, police in Portland, Oregon, arrested a homeless woman for "offensive littering" after she spat on the ground in front of police officers, reports The Portland Mercury.

In Colorado, individuals who spit in public can be charged with public indecency. In New York City, spitting in public is a health code violation that carries a $25 fine, according to the Gothamist. Other cities, such as Chicago, have repealed laws against spitting in public, reports the Chicago Tribune. Many of these laws were enacted in the early 20th century to prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis.