Daylight Saving: Time for Some Legal Trivia

By Brett Snider, Esq. on November 01, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is a mystery to most Americans, yet it essentially dictates our daily schedules.

With America ready to "fall back" on Sunday, here's some legal trivia you may not know about Daylight Saving Time:

When Did DST Begin?

Myth lovers and historians can argue about whether Ben Franklin actually "conceived" of DST, but the practice actually began less than 100 years ago.

Congress established our familiar official time zones (Eastern, Central, Pacific, etc.) in 1918 during World War I. An added portion of the time zone law was a seven-month period of "Daylight Saving" that pushed clocks forward one hour. This provision was repealed shortly thereafter, only to be reinstated during World War II.

Once WWII was over, DST was repealed again, only to crop up again in 1966 as part of the Uniform Time Act, which has since standardized the start and end of DST but allows states to decide if they want to participate.

Which States Participate in DST?

Today, just two states decline to observe DST.

Arizona famously hasn't observed DST for almost 40 years, citing the extreme heat later in the year. Ignoring DST lets Arizona residents avoid the blazing sun, which stays out until "9 p.m. in the summer," according to Phoenix's KNXV-TV. However, the Navajo Indian Reservation in northeastern Arizona still observes DST.

Hawaii also has opted out of DST since the passage of the Uniform Time Act, continuously maintaining a time of 10 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Other states that straddle time zones (like Kentucky and Florida) have the option under the Uniform Time Act to exempt areas of the state from DST, which is incredibly confusing and the source of continuing debate -- see Indiana.

When Does DST Start and End?

From 1966 until 2006, DST began at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of April and ended at 2 a.m. on the last Sunday of October.

But in 2005, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, amending the Uniform Time Act to start DST on the second Sunday of March and ending on the first Sunday of November, effectively extending DST by about three weeks.

This DST schedule currently in effect began in March 2007. Congress has reserved the right to change it back to the old time.

What Do I Do This Year?

For most of the country, this Sunday at 2 a.m., set your clock back to 1 a.m. and enjoy an extra hour of sleep.

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