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Many jurisdictions require a person engaged in a call on a party line to end the call immediately if another party needs the line for an emergency.
Such laws also provide penalties for abuse by falsifying emergency situations.
In rural areas in the early 20th century, additional subscribers and telephones, often numbering several dozen, were frequently connected to the single loop available. They were frequently used as a source of entertainment and gossip, as well as a means of quickly alerting entire neighbourhoods of emergencies such as fires, becoming a cultural fixture of rural areas for many decades.
The rapid growth of telephone service demand, especially after World War II, resulted in a large fraction of party line installations in the middle of the 20th century in the United States.
In June 1968, the conviction of three Winter Park, Florida men on bookmaking charges was overturned as police had used a party-line telephone in a rented house on the same line as the suspects to unlawfully intercept their communications.