I spent some time last week driving through Illinois and Indiana. One thing I noticed was the difference between their “rules” in their rest areas. Illinois: nanny state. Indiana: live and let live.
First, here’s the sign at the entrance to the rest area building in Indiana:
Just the standard stuff.
And here is the sign at the entrance to the building at a rest area on the Illinois Tollway (in Illinois, tollway rest areas are called “oases”):
I just ignored the sign (as I have done before). I didn’t want service; I just needed to pee.
I guess the sign is there because the Tollway Oases have a lot of food vendors, and somebody got it in their head that food required a NSNSNS sign (that old myth). I should add that I don’t think that normal Illinois rest areas (not on the Tollway) have such a sign. Toll roads are run by a separate authority (not just the highway department) and often make up their own stuff.
The thing is, I don’t think the sign is authorized by law. The Tollway is authorized by Illinois Compiled Statutes 605 ILCS 10/. That certainly doesn’t say anything about bare feet. It does, however, allow the Tollway Authority to make rules (which they have to properly document). Those rules are in Illinois’ Administrative Code, Title 92, Chapter IV, Part 2520.
But again, no rule about bare feet. Some administrator just had those signs ordered and put up.
The sad thing is, they could probably get away with enforcing that sign. Some court would simply assume that of course such a sign is ok, even without authority, and allow it to be enforced. I had something similar happen with the Ohio State Fair (in which, in order to create a rule, specific procedures had to be followed that weren’t, and the court just didn’t care).
Illinois is not the only state to do this. Other states I am familiar with that do something similar include Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Again, I don’t know if those similar signs are restricted to rest areas along toll roads or all rest areas (though, in those eastern states, often all interstates are toll roads).