Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Puzzling, hilarious, and downright bizarre laws that are still on the books in the U.S.

In the United States we have so many laws on the books that they’re impossible to count. In fact, each new calendar year sees around 40,000 or more new laws enacted between federal, state, and municipal governments. The federal criminal codes by themselves fill 51 volumes with over 3,000 laws, and they are constantly being amended and added. With that much fine print to read and paper to push, it’s no wonder that lawmakers and legislators don’t always have time to go back and clean up outdated and irrelevant laws. The result is that we have some extremely questionable statues still in force, some of which go back a couple hundred years. Some of them seem like such common sense that it's disturbing you'd even need them. Though they are never enforced and even police and politicians don’t know about them, they are still technically legally binding – which can be downright scary in some cases!

While researching these myriad unusual laws, I noticed a trend – they mostly applied to the roads, animals, food and drink, women, and “Blue” laws that regulate activity on Sundays. I don’t really know why or what to make of that, but I categorized them as such, and added a few categories for the bizarre and scary, and even laws that are actually good ideas and should be enforced!

Laws involving animals:

Citizens of Farmington, Connecticut have to share the road with cows because they have the same legal rights to use the roads as motorists.

In Montana, if you guide sheep onto a railroad track expressly with the intent of injuring the train, and the conductor ends up being harmed, you can be charged a $50,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

California has a law on the books that dictates a frog that dies during a frog-jumping contest can’t be eaten. The law originated from health codes enforced around the annual Frog Jumping Jubilee in Calaveras County.

You can’t snap a photo of a rabbit without a permit from January to April in Wyoming.

In Alabama, it’s a Class B felony to purchase, possess, or train a bear to wrestle.

If you’re walking your elephant around in Orlando, Florida and it wants to rest in one place for a while, you’re expected to deposit coins into the parking meter just like it was a motor vehicle.

In Norman, Oklahoma, it’s illegal to tease dogs by making scary and ugly faces.

Alaska has made it illegal to tie your dog to the roof of your car.

Laws about food and drink:

North Dakota bar owners can’t legally serve beer and pretzels at the same time.

In Gainsville, Georgia, you’re not legally allowed to eat fried chicken any way but with your bare hands.

Indiana has a great law on the books that prohibits attending a public event or using public transport if you’ve eaten onions or garlic within the past four hours!

In that same state, liquor stores can’t sell chilled water or soda, but can sell soda at room temperature.

Although federal prohibition of alcohol was repealed in 1933, Kansas outlawed alcohol sales and consumption all the way until 1948. Even today, each county has the latitude to prohibit the sale of alcohol in public in venues where 30 percent or less of their gross income comes from food sales.

Laws of the road:

It’s illegal to drive down the road with an uncaged bear in your car in Missouri.

Likewise, in Massachusetts it’s illegal to drive a car while there’s a gorilla in the back seat.

In Alabama, they decided to turn the most base common sense into a statute, making it illegal to drive with a blindfold on.

In West Virginia, motorists can collect and eat any road kill they hit.

Swearing out loud while driving a car is a misdemeanor in Rockville, Maryland.

In Galesburg, Illinois, bicyclists are legally prohibited from “fancy riding.”

Glendale, California residents will be breaking the law if they jump from any car that is traveling 65 mph or more.

In Oklahoma, you’ll be arrested if you’re caught reading a comic book and driving a car at the same time.

“Blue” Laws:

In Rhode Island, it’s illegal to sell toothpaste and toothbrushes to the same customer on Sundays.

It’s illegal to eat candy less than half an hour before Sunday church service in Salem, West Virginia.

In the town of Winona Lake, Wisconsin, they made it illegal to eat ice cream at a counter on Sundays.

Even worse, you can’t eat cherry pie a la mode on Sundays in Kansas.

Dog owners in Hartford, Connecticut can’t take their pets to obedience training on Sundays.

There is actually a law on the books in Florida that prohibits unmarried women from parachuting on Sundays!

Laws attempting to regulate female conduct:

In Cleveland, Ohio, it’s still technically illegal for women to wear shiny patent leather shoes in public.

Women in Florida can be fined for falling asleep under a dryer in a hair salon.
Even more ridiculous is a law in Michigan that says a woman’s hair technically belongs to her husband, so she has to get his permission before changing her hairstyle.

Women in Pittsburgh who sweep dirt under their rug when cleaning could be subject to a fine.

In Memphis, Tennessee, a law mandates that a woman can’t drive a car unless a man is in front of the car waving a red flag as a warning to other motorists.

Laws that maybe we should start enforcing again:

In North Carolina, it’s illegal to sing off-key in public.

Any motorist entering Washington D.C. who has criminal intentions is mandated to stop at the city limits and telephone the chief of police with the news.

In Hawaii, commercial billboards are outlawed on all islands with only 18 exceptions, part of their urban beautification initiative from 1927.

Academic fraud committed by selling a term paper, essay, dissertation, etc. at any education facility in Connecticut illegal.

In Iowa, if you serve or sell margarine and claim it’s butter you’re committing a misdemeanor.

In Michigan, adultery has been a felony since 1931, which can land you in prison for up to four years and a $5,000 fine.

Even better, any male over 16 years of age in South Carolina who seduced a woman by falsely promising to marry her can be charged with a misdemeanor and do up to one-year jail time!

Laws that are just plain weird:

It’s illegal to sell your own eyeballs in Texas.

If a man in Idaho gives his fiancé a box of candy that weighs more than 50 lbs., he’s breaking the law.

In Eureka, Nevada, it’s illegal to kiss a woman if you have a mustache.

In Paulding, Ohio, policemen may legally bite a dog if they think the dog is a threat and it will calm the animal down.

North Carolina residents who want to play Bingo may run into some legal problems, as games are restricted to five hours, only once in any 48-hour period, and for no more than a $500 prize.

In Washington State, you’ll be arrested and fined if you harass Bigfoot.

It’s spelled out in the New Mexico state constitution that idiots can’t vote in state elections.

Scary laws:

In Arizona, cutting down a cactus can land you in prison for 25 years.

In Louisiana, Jambalya prepared in the traditional manner for sale to the public – which means on an open wood fire – isn’t subject to sanitation regulations, health or safety codes.

In Virginia, there is still a law in existence that makes it illegal for any couple to have sex unless they are married, resulting in a Class 4 misdemeanor.

Of course cannibalism is illegal in Idaho, punishably by up to 14 years in prison, but there are lawful exceptions on the books in the case of life or death situations.

In Reno, Nevada, it’s illegal to place a bench or chair in the middle of the road.

In Florida, dwarf tossing is illegal in commercial establishments where alcohol is sold. It’s terrible they even need such a law, but what’s most scary is that a Florida state legislator tried to repeal the law in 2011 but wasn't successful.

In Marshalltown, Ohio, horses are prohibited from eating fire hydrants.

It’s amazing there isn’t a long line of trains stuck at every junction in Texas because a nonsensical law states: "When two railroad trains meet at a crossing, each shall stop and neither shall proceed until the other has passed."

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