Hilarious Laws on the Books Across the United States

We’ve all heard of that one local ordinance or law which makes us shake our head, either in total amazement at how outdated it is or how embarrassingly funny it happens to be. When they are evaluated on a small scale, it’s comical, but in a compilation, it’s nothing short of a side-splitting event that will stick with us for the rest of the day.  What’s even funnier is that once we read about them, it’s just a matter of time before we run out to tell someone else, reliving that funny moment time and time again.

Every state has several colorful laws; a few from each are included as well as a few localities or city laws which are just too funny to exclude.  In no particular order and for no particular reason, Texas is the first state we’ll look at.  Hard to believe, but Texas residents are forbidden by law to sell either one of their eyes. It’s also illegal to milk someone else’s cows or to take more than three sips of beer while standing up.  It’s also against the law to shoot a buffalo from a second story window of a hotel.  The entire Encyclopedia Britannica is banned in Texas because it contains a formula for making beer at home.  And one must acknowledge the existence of a supreme being before being allowed to hold public office.  In the town of Clarendon, it’s illegal to dust a public building with a feather duster.

In Alabama, it’s illegal to carry an ice cream cone in your back pocket at any time. There’s also a law which prohibits you from driving a car blindfolded, something which makes sense to me.  But it is legal to drive the wrong way down a one-way street if you have a lantern attached to the front of your vehicle.  Citizens of Arkansas will be arrested if they try to keep alligators in their bathtub.  Men are legally allowed to beat their wives, but only once monthly.  Dog owners are at odds with a Little Rock law which prohibits them, the dogs not their owners, from barking after 6 PM.  In Florida pregnant pigs are not allowed to be confined in cages, doors must open outward, and thankfully, it’s illegal there to sell your children.  Women in Florida need to be careful since it’s illegal to fall asleep while under a commercial hair dryer.  Men cannot be seen in public in a strapless gown and it’s illegal to sing in a public place while wearing only a swimsuit.  In Kentucky, one may not dye a duckling blue and offer it for sale that is unless more than six are for sale at once.  In Owensboro, KY, a woman may not buy a hat without permission from her husband.

Georgians are prohibited from cursing or otherwise using profanity while in front of a dead body, but only when the corpse is at a funeral home or the coroner’s office. Also no sign can be posted in any language except for English.  In the town of Acworth, all citizens by law must own a rake.  In Kansas you can’t hunt rabbit from a motorboat nor can you catch fish with your bare hands.  In Overland Park, no one can lawfully picket a funeral and in Topeka it’s illegal to sing the alphabet on the street, but only at night.  Wrestling fans in Louisiana are often disappointed as “fake wrestling” is illegal, and to be fair, it’s also illegal to mock one of the fighters at a boxing match.  Wildlife theft is a big crime in Louisiana and theft of alligators and crawfish are both illegal, but then again so is gargling in public.  Mississippi has a law that states if one is a parent to two illegitimate children, that person will go to jail for at least one month.  It’s also illegal to teach polygamy.  In Tylertown, it’s illegal to shave in the center of Main Street.

In Anchorage Alaska, you can’t tie your pet dog to the roof of your car nor can you live in a trailer that is being hauled across the city. In Juneau you cannot enter a barbershop with your pet flamingo.  In Haines, it is against the law to attempt to break any law in title 9 of the local code (public peace, morals, and welfare.)  I’m not sure how the punishment would work for someone attempting to break that law; maybe two strikes?  In Hawaii, you can ride in the back of an open truck, but not in the backseat of a car without a seat belt.  Hawaiians are only allowed to have one alcoholic drink in front of them at a tavern at any given time; no last call stocking up allowed.  Billboards are also prohibited in Hawaii.

Michigan residents cannot be drunk while on a train, cars cannot be sold on Sunday, and a woman isn’t allowed to cut her own hair without her husband’s permission. Surprisingly, any person over the age of 12 may have a license for a handgun as long as he or she has not been convicted of a felony.  It is illegal to let your pig run free in Detroit unless it has a ring in its nose.  Minnesota residents are prohibited from crossing state lines with a duck atop their head.  They cannot enter neighboring Wisconsin with a chicken on their heads; Seems as if wildlife and head-perching just won’t fly in the land of 10,000 lakes.  In Saint Cloud it’s illegal to eat a hamburger on Sunday and in Minneapolis red cars are banned from Lake Street.  In North Dakota, you can be arrested for going to sleep with your shoes on, and bar owners can be cited for serving both beer and pretzels at the same time.  In Fargo, one may be jailed for wearing a hat while dancing, or even for wearing a hat to a function where dancing is taking place.  In South Dakota, it is illegal to fall asleep in a cheese factory.  Also, any movie which depicts police officers being struck or beaten cannot be aired in the state.  Don’t even think of serving apple pie without a side order of chees if you’re in Wisconsin.  Also, understand that cheese-making requires a license and Limburger cheese-making requires a master cheese maker’s license.  Margarine may not be substituted for butter in a restaurant without the consent of the customer and butter substitutes are banned, even for prisoners.  It is a class A misdemeanor to wave a burning torch around in the air and it’s illegal to kiss while riding a train.

In Nevada, the state where it seems everything is legal, you cannot ride a camel on the highway. In Nyala a man is forbidden from buying drinks for more than three people other than himself at any one period during the day.  And if you plan on putting benches in Reno, avoid putting them in the middle of a street of fear arrest.  New Mexico forbids idiots from voting.  In Carrizozo it’s forbidden for a female to appear unshaven in public.  In Las Cruces you may not carry a lunchbox down Main Street.  It’s illegal in Oregon to let babies ride on the running boards of a car.  Dishes must be allowed to drip dry and canned corn cannot be used as bait while fishing.  In Hood River, jugglers need a license before juggling and in Marion; you cannot walk backwards while eating a doughnut.  In Utah, it’s illegal to have marital relations in the back of an ambulance if it’s responding to an emergency call.  It’s illegal to fish from horseback and boxing matches which allow biting are banned.  In Logan, women may not swear and in Ogden, only animal service officers and police offices may molest animals.  In Washington state, the harassing of Bigfoot, Sasquatch or other undiscovered subspecies is a felony punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment.  Oddly enough, Washington makes using X-Ray’s to fit shoes an illegal act.  Lollipops are a banned item and it’s illegal for anyone to paint polka dots on the American Flag.  Also, you cannot buy any kind of meat on Sunday in Washington.  In Everett, it is illegal to display a hypnotized or allegedly hypnotized person in a store window.

You can’t legally hunt Camels in Arizona and if the judge is in a bad mood, he or she could sentence you to 25 years in prison for cutting down a cactus. Donkeys are not allowed to sleep in your bathtub, nor are you legally entitled to possess more than two dildos per household.  Unfortunately in Maricopa County, no more than six girls are allowed to live in the same house and Nogales forbids wearing suspenders.  Neighboring California it’s a misdemeanor to shoot at any kind of game from a moving vehicle, unless you’re shooting at a whale.  I’m not sure how they enforce the law that states that no animals shall mate within 1500 feet of a tavern, school, or place of worship, but then again they do things differently in California.  Some local laws are unique as well, including the Baldwin Park law which prohibits riding a bike in a swimming pool and the Blythe law which prohibits wearing cowboy boots that is unless you own at least two head of cattle.

New Jersey forbids the sale of handcuffs to minors and it’s illegal to wear a bullet-proof vest while committing murder. You cannot pump your own gas in New Jersey and if you are a man, you cannot knit during fishing season.  It’s also a violation of the law to slurp your soup and one may not delay or detain a homing pigeon.  In New York it’s illegal to throw a ball at someone’s head for fun.  It’s also illegal to congregate in public with two or more people while each wearing a mask or any face covering which disguises your identity.  Women may go topless in public, providing it is not being used as a business.  Slippers are not to be worn after 10:00 PM nor may citizens greet each other by “putting one’s thumb to the nose and wiggling the fingers”.  Women in Vermont must get permission from their husband to wear false teeth and it used to be illegal to tie a giraffe to a public utility pole.  In Barre, VT, all residents must bathe on Saturday night.

Illinois residents are not allowed to have relations with a corpse and must carry at least one dollar with them at all times or risk being arrested for vagrancy. In Chicago, I’m sorry to say that it’s illegal to eat at any restaurant while it’s on fire and it’s illegal to give whiskey to a dog.  In the Pullman area, it is illegal to drink beer out of a bucket while sitting on the curb.  If any person has a puppet show, wire dancing or tumbling act in the state of Indiana and receives money for it, they will be fined $3 under the Act to Prevent Certain Immoral Practices.  Three dollar fines are very common in Indiana, also being the punishment for anyone fourteen or older who profanely curses, damns or swears by the name of God, Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, shall be fined one to three dollars for each offense.  A three dollar fine per pack will be imposed on anyone playing cards in Indiana under the Act for the Prevention of Gaming.  In Iowa, men cannot kiss women in public while sporting a mustache, not sure if beards apply too.  Any one-armed piano players in Iowa are compelled by law to play for free and ministers must obtain a permit to carry their liquor across state lines.  In Cedar Rapids, it’s illegal to read palms within the city limits and in Marshalltown any horse caught eating a fire hydrant will be subject to a stiff penalty.

Colorado residents are not allowed to mutilate a rock while in a state park, which likely hurts the arrowhead trade in those areas. But it is legal to remove those pesky tags from pillows and mattresses, so it balances things out.  In Aspen, it’s still illegal to fire a catapult at any building; I guess there are no more un-breached castles left in the state.  Not to be outdone, Denver prohibits lending your vacuum cleaner to your next door neighbor and you cannot bring a pack mule or horse above the ground floor of any building.  Idaho residents cannot fish from a camel’s back for any reason nor can they ride a merry-go-round on Sunday.  To supplement the strict fishing law, Boise added a clause which prohibits fishing from a giraffe’s back as well.  And in Pocatello, it’s illegal to be out in public without smiling.  In Montana, no person may pretend to abuse an animal in the presence of a minor.  In Montana it’s also illegal for married women to go fishing alone on Sundays, and illegal for unmarried women to fish alone anytime.  It is illegal to have a sheep in the cab of your truck without a chaperone and considered a felony when a wife opens her husband’s mail.  Wyoming laws states that any new building costing over $100,000 must have at least 1% of the total building cost spent on artwork.  It’s also illegal for women to stand within 5 feet of the bar while drinking and you may not photograph rabbits from January to April without a permit.

North Carolina has made it a felony to steal more than $1000 worth of grease and a bill has been passed that restricts local planning agencies’ ability to use climate change science to predict sea-level rise. Also it’s illegal to use elephants as beasts of burden to plow cotton fields.  Bingo games cannot last more than 5 hours unless at a State Fair, and alcohol is not allowed to be served at any Bingo event.  In South Carolina, it is a capital offense to inadvertently kill someone while attempting suicide.  Musical instruments may not be sold on Sunday and you must be at least 18 years old to play pinball.  Plus, a permit must be obtained before firing a missile.  Students in Tennessee schools may not hold hands and it is a crime to share your Netflix password.  Ministers are forbidden from holding a seat in the state House of Legislation and no Christian parent may compel their children to pick up trash on the roadside on Easter Sunday.  It’s illegal to gather roadkill for personal consumption but you can hunt whales from a moving vehicle; no other game can be taken in this manner.  It’s illegal to use a lasso to catch fish, sell a hollow log, or dare a minor to purchase beer.  It’s unlawful in Virginia to tickle women and children are forbidden to go Trick-or-Treating on Halloween.  In Norfolk, you can’t spit on a seagull and a man can face a 60 day prison sentence for patting a woman on her backside.

Connecticut residents cannot surpass 65 miles per hour while pedaling their bicycles nor can they lawfully dispose of used razor blades. I imagine every household has a used razor blade canister or two.  Food safety is paramount in Connecticut especially when pickles are concerned.  If a pickled cucumber doesn’t bounce when dropped, then it’s not actually a pickle by state law.  I wonder if there are professional pickle testers working the state?  In neighboring Delaware you can’t watch an R-rated movie at the drive in theater.   Maine residents are required by law to take their shotguns to church in the event of a Native American attack.  It’s also illegal in Maine to display Christmas decorations after January 14th.  In Maryland you can’t grow thistles in your yard.  In Baltimore it is a violation of city code to sell chicks or ducklings to a minor within 1 week of the Easter holiday.  Baltimore also has a law against bringing a lion to the movies.

Massachusetts forbids giving beer to hospital patients and frowns upon shooting ranges using targets shaped like human silhouettes. Snoring is prohibited unless all bedroom windows are closed and securely locked.  Also, to be fair, both Quakers and witches are banned.  In New Hampshire you are forbidden from selling the clothes you are wearing to pay off a gambling debt, it’s illegal to gather seaweed on a public beach, and any cattle that cross state roads must be fitted with a device to gather their feces.  In Claremont cemeteries, it is illegal to: get drunk, picnic, enter at night, and enter by one’s self if that person is younger than 10.  Cap guns are illegal in Rhode Island and ropes may not be strung across a highway.  It is considered an offense to throw pickle juice on a trolley and impersonating a town sealer, auctioneer, corder of wood, or a fence-viewer is against the law.

Missouri law states that all single men between the ages of twenty-one and fifty must pay an annual tax of one dollar. Columbia, MO prohibits clotheslines but allows wet clothes to be hung over fences.  In Kansas City, minors are not allowed to purchase cap pistols, however they may buy shotguns freely.  In Natchez, it shall be unlawful to provide beer or other intoxicants to elephants.  Nebraskans can be arrested if their children burp while in church.  It is illegal for bar owners to sell beer unless they are simultaneously brewing a kettle of soup and it’s illegal to go whale fishing.  In Ohio, it’s a violation of the law for law enforcement to make a civil arrest on Sunday’s or the 4th of July.  It’s also illegal to get a fish drunk, although I’m not quite sure how they would measure that.  It’s prohibited to participate in a duel.  In Akron, it’s illegal to display colored chickens for sale.  In Oklahoma dogs must have a permit signed by the mayor in order to congregate in groups of three or more on private property – I’m just not sure where they’d carry it.  It’s also illegal to wear boots to bed, read a comic book while driving, and have the hind legs of farm animals in your boots.  Not too sure how to interpret that one.

In the keystone state, it’s illegal to discharge a gun, cannon, or any type of explosive at a wedding. It’s also illegal in Pennsylvania to have over 16 women together in the same household because state law deems it a brothel at that point.  It’s also illegal to sleep on the top of a refrigerator, but only if said refrigerator is outdoors.  Any motorist driving along a country road at night must stop every mile and send up a rocket signal, wait 10 minutes for the road to be cleared of livestock, and continue and a special cleaning ordinance bans housewives from hiding dirt and dust under a rug in a dwelling.  Ministers are forbidden from performing marriages when either the bride or groom is drunk and fireworks stores within Pennsylvania are forbidden from selling fireworks to Pennsylvania residents.  West Virginia is one of the few states allowing road kill to be taken home for dinner but whistling while underwater is strictly prohibited.  In Alderson, WV, one may not walk a lion, tiger or leopard, even on a leash. In Nicholas County, no member of the clergy is allowed to tell jokes or humorous stories from the pulpit during a church service.

Hopefully by now, your sides are sore from laughing and you’ve been able to pick out a few choice quips to share with your friends. Now, many of these laws are antiquated and no longer enforced, but if you can see yourself back in the old days, how would you react to them?  Obviously there are many more laws which I haven’t listed here because of the adult nature of their wording or subject matter.   Just remember that an actual person or committee wrote and passed these laws.  Kind of makes you wonder who those people were and makes you ask, what were they thinking?

R J Schwartz

I write about everything and sometimes nothing at all.I'm fascinated by old things, rusty things, abandoned places, or anywhere that a secret might be unearthed.I'm passionate about history and many of my pieces are anchored in one concept of time or another.I've always been a writer, dating back to my youth, but the last decade has been a time of growth for me.I'm continually pushing the limitations of vocabulary, syntax, and descriptive phrasing.
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R J Schwartz

I write about everything and sometimes nothing at all. I'm fascinated by old things, rusty things, abandoned places, or anywhere that a secret might be unearthed. I'm passionate about history and many of my pieces are anchored in one concept of time or another. I've always been a writer, dating back to my youth, but the last decade has been a time of growth for me. I'm continually pushing the limitations of vocabulary, syntax, and descriptive phrasing.

4 thoughts on “Hilarious Laws on the Books Across the United States

  • January 18, 2017 at 5:56 PM
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    ” New Mexico forbids idiots from voting.” this should be nation wide. As for Big Foot in Washington state, I remember when Dad would take us camping he would tell us kids to not tease Big Foot. In Nevada I think it being illegal to ride a camel on the highway is still in effect, for we have the camel races annually in Virginia City. Ralph, this piece is well penned and hysterical. I so enjoyed it. I just hope my neighbors don’t call the cops for me disturbing the peace by laughing so loud and so long. Well done.

    Reply
  • January 19, 2017 at 1:13 PM
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    This started out as a quick piece just to start populating one of our new categories and quickly morphed into a full-blown piece of hilarity. It was fun researching it; I had to stop a few times to wipe away the tears from laughing so hard.

    Reply
  • February 8, 2017 at 12:08 AM
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    Good laughs here. I live in Washington state and an acquaintance of mine is obsessed with finding Bigfoot. I’m with Phyllis, idiots should not be voting in the United States. In fact there ought to be a law against idiots running for public office. Thanks for the laughs.

    Reply

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