The Weirdest Laws In All 50 States
Which bizarre laws are real, and which are just myth?
One of the things that makes America fun is the way that each of the 50 states can, at times, seem like 50 separate countries. Different cultures, different dialects and, of course, different laws. Each state has the power to create their own laws and then, within that state, each county and city can make their own rules as well.
The internet abounds with lists of the strangest laws in each state, in case you find yourself on a road trip this summer and don’t want one of your destinations to be the local jail. But as is typical of the internet, some of the laws listed are just very loose interpretations of statutes, old laws that have since been repealed or “laws” that are just plain made up.
That’s what we’re here for. Without further ado, here’s a breakdown of some of the weirder state laws that can be found on the internet, and whether or not they are real:
According to MSN.com, it is illegal to drive blindfolded in Alabama. This seems like common sense, but is it true? Well, technically yes. A statute in Alabama law prohibits driving if there is anything “to obstruct the view of the driver.” Seems like a blindfold would count.
Also, Thrillist said that it is illegal for “idiots” to vote. While “idiot” may seem like something you would call your buddy Steve after he ate gas station sushi, in the eyes of the law it refers to people with intellectual disabilities. Several states actually have laws that prohibit people with intellectual disabilities from voting.
Several strange Alaskan laws reportedly involve moose, but most of them are actually either urban legends or misleading. For instance, one County says you can’t view moose from an airplane, but that’s only true if you’re helping someone hunting a moose. A law prohibiting people from giving moose alcohol has also been repealed. Not that moose have any trouble getting boozed up on their own.
But forget the moose, there’s actually a law in Alaska saying that PEOPLE can’t get drunk at bars.
A popular internet story is that it is illegal to let a donkey sleep in a bathtub because of an incident in 1924 in which a donkey got swept away in a tub during a flood. I couldn’t find the statute, but local defense attorneys say it’s true. So, to to be on the safe side, just keep your ass out of the tub.
Thrillist, in the meantime, said it’s illegal to feed your pig garbage without a permit and, yes, this one is true. Though I imagine lawmakers and pigs have different definitions of “garbage.”
The pronunciation of the state’s name is literally written into state law. It’s a good thing there are no actual penalties for this, or I would have done some serious time when I was back in elementary school.
Calaveras County is home to a competition known as “frog jumping,” a contest that became known nationally when it was written about by Mark Twain himself. As a result, California has entire sections of its code dedicated to frog jumping, including one law from 1957 that says you can’t eat the frogs after they are done jumping. Sorry witches.
It is fitting that, in a state known as the home of Coors and a lot of craft breweries, it is illegal to ride a horse while intoxicated. And yes, this is a real law and can result in a charge of “riding a horse while under the influence of alcohol.” It is also against the law to have a couch on your porch in the college town of Boulder, mainly because college kids keep setting them on fire.
In order for a pickle to pass mustard (erm…muster), it must be able to bounce. Apparently this is in response to people who sold cucumbers as pickles. This test seems like waste of pickles, but maybe Connecticut also has a section in its laws about the five-second rule.
It is considered illegal to sell fur from a cat or dog in the Blue Hen State.
You can also get your marriage annulled if you can prove it was done “as a jest or a dare.” Which should go well on the invitations: RSVP JK LOL.
Due to safety concerns, the state of Florida banned dwarf tossing, which is a game that sounds like exactly what it is in 1989. It is still a law, but some in recent years have tried to get it repealed. As it currently stands, a Florida bar can have its liquor license revoked if it sanctions a bout of dwarf tossing.
Another one of the more popular “crazy laws” in Florida that you’ll see floating around the internet is that it is illegal to sing while in a bathing suit. But if you search the law, it says this is illegal in Saratoga, Florida, which is not a real place. Just to cover the bases, we searched the municipal code of the very real city of Sarasota and found no such law.
In Georgia, it is illegal to use “obscene and vulgar or profane language” to anyone under the age of 14. And you thought having to feed the swear jar was bad! Oh, and in case you wanted to sail away from all those ****ing teens and swear to your ****ing heart’s content, Georgia law prohibits you from living on a boat for more than 30 days at a time.
So, MSN and most of the internet say it’s illegal to place a coin in your ear in Hawaii, though I could not find the actual law posted anywhere. Supposedly, this stems not from a distaste for tacky magic shows, but from early orders to destroy Hawaiian coinage and drug dealers who would identify themselves by putting coins in their ears.
Thrillist also notes that it is legal for people over the age of 12 to ride in the bed of trucks, which is true. Growing up in Hawaii, I spent most of my youth in the back of a Ford Ranger. And I turned out fine! Sort of.
Eating another human being in Idaho is not legal. This is not terribly shocking. But what is interesting is that Idaho takes the time to say that cannibalism IS allowed if you gnawed on your buddies “under extreme life-threatening conditions as the only apparent means of survival.”
As far as something that is outright illegal, without exception, in the city of Twin Falls, people are prohibited from burning manure. This means that Billy Madison likely would’ve been arrested if he’d lived in Idaho.
Even if they are under the age of 21, culinary students are allowed to drink alcohol as long as they “sip and spit,” according to the Rockford Register Star. This despite concerns from people that “questioned how the schools would enforce rules against swallowing.” Yeah, I’m not going to touch that one.
Illinois is also one of 14 states that have banned car sales on Sundays. Dealerships in the state have been forced to limit their sales week to six days since 1982, a controversial law that some have demanded be changed.
In case you ever wondered why Indiana can host the Indianapolis 500 but not the Indianapolis Derby, Marion County law prohibits riding a horse more than 10 mph. Oh, and according to the Indianapolis Star, the state also does not allow catching fish with your bare hands. In case you are capable of that … I’m looking at you, Li Shang from “Mulan.”
It is illegal in the city of Creston to throw bricks or shoot arrows in a public space unless you get written permission from the city council. I’m really curious to see how that hearing would go.
It is illegal to own a “gambling device” in Kansas but, luckily, state law specifically says that those claw games you play at the fair are not technically gambling devices. Which is good news for little kids, guys on first dates, and the aliens from “Toy Story.” This law may not be around for much longer, however, as Kansas is one of many states currently revisiting its gambling laws.
Hope you like buying in bulk around Easter. Kentucky law prohibits dyeing and selling chicks or bunnies unless you do it to at least six of them.
It is illegal to order someone a surprise pizza in Louisiana. Or Chinese, or a sandwich, or really any deliverable service or good. You can face a $500 fine, which seems like s steep price to pay for sending a pizza anywhere other than your own mouth.
Also, you can’t talk trash during a boxing match. Which seems sort of petty, considering they are up there repeatedly punching each other in the face.
In case you were planning to stage a drawing to give away some of your prized sheep, you might want to hold off. In Maine, you need a special permit to give away livestock in a raffle. Oh, and the rumor about it being illegal to keep Christmas lights up for too long? An internet rumor.
MSN claims that wearing sleeveless shirts in Baltimore parks is prohibited, but in Baltimore’s parks rules, I only found reference to people not undressing or engaging in “obscene or indecent acts” in the park. You are, however, not allowed to “annoy” or “snoop” in the park.
But speaking of indecent acts, a famous law about it being illegal to sell non-latex condoms in vending machines? Yeah, that’s a thing.
State law prohibits exploding golf balls, even though that would make watching golf really, really fun. Oh, and fortune tellers cannot tell fortunes unless they get a permit and live for one year in the town they are practicing in. I did not see that one coming.
The state of Michigan may be home to the Motor City, but good luck trying to buy one of those cars on a Sunday. Similar to the law in Illinois, it is forbidden by state law for dealerships to open on Sunday. And when you take the train because you couldn’t buy your car, be careful how much you drink, because being drunk on a train is also illegal.
Apparently, this state is all about good, clean fun. Because muddy tires are considered a public nuisance, and “greased pig contests” and “turkey scrambles” are also illegal. I don’t know what either of those things are, but now I really want to participate in one.
Talk about Old Testament. Mississippi law prohibits premarital sex and living with someone you aren’t married to, and also imposes fines if you have more than one kid out of wedlock. Luckily for all consenting adults, while the laws are on the books, it appears nobody actually enforces them.
Bear wrestling is illegal. It is also really, really stupid. If you happen to get arrested for wrestling bears, consider yourself lucky because that’s probably the best outcome you could’ve hoped for!
Sadly, it is illegal to raise rats to give away as presents in the city of Billings. But it is perfectly legal to salvage roadkill deer, elk, antelope or moose to eat. You know what? Let’s move on to the next state, this is starting to get gross.
You are not allowed to get married in Nebraska if you have a sexually transmitted disease. This sounds highly discriminatory but I’m no attorney. Ok … moving on.
Throwing things while sitting in a chairlift is illegal. In possibly related news, you are not supposed to be drunk on chairlifts either. Something tells me that, sometime in history, one guy had a very epic day of skiing in Nevada.
Oh, and while you’re visiting downtown Reno, don’t sit on the sidewalks or you could be cited.
It has been illegal to collect seaweed at night in New Hampshire since 1973. There must’ve beeb a seaweed-crazy population of vampires in the Granite State at some point.
Murder is illegal in New Jersey, as it is pretty much everywhere in the universe. But New Jersey also adds a penalty if you commit or try to commit a murder while wearing a bulletproof vest. But really, you shouldn’t be murdering anyone dressed in anything. Because, to repeat, murder is bad.
Do you know all the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner?” What about “O Fair New Mexico?” Well, you better learn them, because performing those songs without finishing them is a crime. But hummers and chorus-mumblers rejoice: some New Mexico lawmakers are trying to change that.
It is illegal to loiter in public with a mask on unless it is part of a masquerade party. So: Halloween, bad. “Fifty Shades of Grey,” totally fine.
MSN says that the state does not allow drunken bingo, which is the best kind of bingo. While the state law does not specifically mention that game, the law does prohibit drinking at establishments that are hosting “any game, at which money or property, or anything of value is bet.” Which could, conceivably, include bingo.
Oh, and it is definitely illegal to steal used kitchen grease.
With less than 1 million people, North Dakota is one of the least populated states, and this law won’t help. It is illegal to clone human embryos.
Thrillist said it is illegal to give fish beer, but other than lots of other dubious internet lists, I could find no such law on the books. But speaking of animals, Ohio, like Kentucky, has a law against selling dyed chicks and bunnies. In the city of Marion, it is also illegal to eat a doughnut and walk backward at the same time, according to an Ohio law firm.
It is illegal to participate in “horse tripping,” which is as mean as it sounds. Bear wrestling is also illegal in Oklahoma. Seriously? Again with the bear wrestling? Why do you people want to wrestle bears??
Hunting in a cemetery is illegal in the state. I never really considered cemeteries game-rich environments, but maybe people were hunting for zombies.
And you thought Massachusetts laws against fortune tellers were harsh. Pennsylvania completely outlaws fortune telling, which, in their definition, includes making love potions and making maps to buried treasure. So, all the fun stuff.
Don’t take the term “horse power” too literally here. “Testing the speed” of a horse is against the law in Rhode Island. At least one state lawmaker wants to get rid of that law, calling it “outdated.”
Juveniles are not allowed to play pinball, loiter in a billiard room or sneak into a theater. Man, being a kid in South Carolina sounds lame.
It’s legal in South Dakota to scare away birds with fireworks. Man, being a kid in South Dakota sounds awesome. On the flip side, it is reportedly illegal to sleep in a cheese factory in that state, which is unfortunate for tired workers.
Much like Oregon, Tennessee is dead serious about its cemeteries. It is illegal to go to a graveyard for “game or amusement,” or to go there for “lewd” reasons.
Speaking of amusement, the Tennessee login law makes it a crime to share passwords for services like Netflix.
MSN claims it is illegal to sell an eye, but really it is illegal to sell any organs, which makes sense. Oh, and that rumored law about it being illegal to drink more than three sips of beer while standing up? It appears to be just that: a rumor.
Utah is notorious for its strict liquor laws. From 3.2-percent beer to curtains separating bartenders from drinkers to restaurant goers needing to “intend to dine” in order to be served, getting a drink in Utah can be like navigating a minefield. It’s not a great state to celebrate your 21st birthday in, is what I’m saying.
Shooting birds for amusement or to practice marksmanship is illegal. Maybe head over to South Dakota.
And MSN says that it’s illegal for women to get false teeth without their husband’s permission, but I’m leaning toward that being a myth. I even perused the entire dental section of the state penal code.
Cheating on your spouse is usually bad, but in Virginia it is actually a misdemeanor. The makers of “Live PD” and “Cheaters” should team up for an epic new series!
I believe! A county in Washington made it illegal to harass the creature “known as ‘Sasquatch,’ ‘Yeti,’ ‘Bigfoot,’ or ‘Giant Hairy Ape.'” Mythical creatures have feelings, too, you know.
Remember “birthers?” Well, meet “duelers.” Anyone who participates in a duel is ineligible to run for office in West Virginia. But the good news is that once you are done with your duel, you can still wear your cowboy hat to a theater, because an old law making it a crime to wear a hat inside a movie theater has since been repealed.
Can’t believe it’s not butter? Well, that’s because it is butter. Wisconsin doesn’t allow substitutes in a public eating place unless the customer specifically asks for it. Yes, this includes prison.
Public art is required for any public building costing more than $100,000. Speaking of classing up the place, the Thrillist says shooting fish with guns is frowned upon. While I didn’t see that specifically prohibited in the Wyoming fishing rules, there is a law against shooting any wildlife with an automatic weapon.