There are some pretty crazy laws in the USA. Unless you have a law degree, chances are you don’t know much about our legal system. For instance: did you know there’s a difference between federal laws, state laws and local laws?
- Federal laws include immigration, bankruptcy and federal crimes, among others
- State laws include criminal matters, divorce, real estate, among others
- Local laws include rent, zoning and local safety
State laws vary by state and there are some pretty crazy laws out there. Once upon a time there was a reason behind these laws and over time these reasons became defunct but the laws were never changed.
Here are 50 of the craziest state laws we’ve come across, one for each state:
In the state of Alabama, it’s illegal to impersonate a member of the clergy and doing so may result in a fine up to $500 or time in the county jail for up to one year!
We’re unsure what this means for Halloween costumes, though… We assume as long as you dress the part but don’t get too into blessing people it’s okay?
There are a lot of moose in Alaska and thus a lot of crazy state laws having to do with moose. For instance, did you know it’s illegal to whisper into someone’s ear while they are moose hunting? It’s also illegal to give a moose alcoholic beverages. And, if you kill a moose (or any large game animal), you need to eat it!
Well, at least try and eat it. If you hunt any large game, it’s required for you to try and salvage the meat.
In Arizona, it’s been illegal for donkeys to sleep in bathtubs since 1924 (but apparently perfectly legal for horses, cats and pigs to sleep in should they wish!).
This crazy law came into effect due to the breakage of a local dam. The dam broke and flooded a donkey-owning farmers house. For some reason unbeknownst to us, the farmer allowed his donkey to sleep in an old bathtub and when the waters hit, the tub was whisked a mile down the valley before finally landing in a basin. The townspeople had to spend a lot of manpower rescuing the donkey, much to their chagrin. Once the donkey was rescued, the town passed a law prohibiting donkeys from sleeping in bathtubs.
Incidentally, similar crazy laws exist in South Carolina and New York.
If you live in Little Rock, Arkansas and like sandwiches, make sure you don’t get hangry and honk your horn near any sandwich shops after 9 PM! Doing so could result in a fine.
Although most of them are closed by 9 PM anyway, so it’s pretty much a moot point these days, but must have been an issue at some point if it became a law.
In San Jose and Sunnyvale, California, the “Bring Your Own Bag” ordinance encourages people to bring bags in efforts to further recycling. Not only that, but “[gr]ocery stores, pharmacies, small and large retailers can no longer provide plastic carryout bags at checkout.” Forget to bring a bag? No problem – the stores will provide paper bags made of 40% post-consumer recycled material, but you’ll need to pay for them.Bags cost a minimum of $0.10.
60,000 plastic bags are consumed every five seconds in the U.S. Not only do they not biodegrade, over time they release dangerous chemicals and block sorting equipment at recycling facilities. They leach toxic chemicals into our drinking water. Find out more about why you would BYOB and what else you can do to help the environment.
In the college town of Boulder, Colorado not only is it illegal to move any boulders on public property but it’s against city code to have indoor furniture in your yard or on your porch. Apparently, there’s been a problem with students burning furniture, which sparked this ordinance.
Violators can be fined up to $1,000 or sentenced to 90 days in jail.
In Connecticut, in order the be classified a “pickle” it must be able to bounce. No bounce, no pickle.
This crazy law dates back to 1948 during “Picklegate,” when two entrepreuners attempted to sell pickles that were “unfit for human consumption.” In order to prevent this from happening again, the Connecticut Food and Drug Commissioner devised ways to test “good pickles.” In addition to lab tests, he said the way to determine a good pickle was to “drop it one foot and it should bounce.”
In the state of Delaware, it’s illegal tosell your cat’s or dog’s fur , or any product made with said fur.
It’s a good thing this Etsy seller who specializes in handknits from dog and cat hair lives in Canada and not Delaware!
Florida has some crazy laws. In 2005, it was deemed legal to “shoot first” if people believed their lives were in danger at that moment. The law has since been ruled unconstitutional, but did you know that you cant be held liable if yourdog bites someone?
If your dog bites someone over the age of 6 on your property, you cannot be sued as long as you gave them proper warning: if you have a sign reading “bad dog,” that constitutes “proper warning.”
In Georgia, it’s illegal to live on a boat for more than 30 days.
This law was passed in 1992 to prevent run-down “floating homes” on oneof Georgia’s rivers, The Altamaha River. Residents considered these houseboats ugly and expressed concerns about their effect on the environment, leading to the passage of the law.
In Hawaii, “double fisting” is illegal; you cannot drink more than one alcoholic drink at once, or even have more than one in front of you.
Want to order a glass of cabernet so it’s ready when your sirloin comes, but don’t want to give up your martini? In most states that would be okay, but this is one of Hawaii’s crazy laws that makes it a crime.
If you’re visiting Rexburg, Idaho in the winter, be cautious of the “snowball ordinance.” Snowball fights are not allowed in public parks and snowballs must be thrown with caution – there is no pelting of snowballs and they as categorized alongside bombs and missiles.
The ordinance read, “It shall be unlawful for any person within the city limits of Rexburg, Idaho, to willfully or carelessly throw any stone, stick, snowball, egg, bomb, missile, or other substance whereby any personis hit or any window broken or any property injured or destroyed.”
In Illinois, it’s illegal to sleep in a bakery. No matter how many delicious cupcakes you may indulge in, do not under any circumstances crash after your sugar high and fall asleep, or you may be arrested.
The same goes for cheese shops. If you need a nap, go home, but don’t even think about breaking these crazy laws.
In Illinois, there are a lot of crazy laws around fishing. Not only is it illegal to use dynamite or a firearm to catch fish, it’s also illegal to use your bare hands!
Catching fish with your bare hands seems pretty tricky. In our opinion, if you can master this skill, you should be allowed to keep the fish.
If you thought the French were particular about their “beurre,” those Iowans are even worse and have very strict rules around what can be called “butter.”
Unless the creamy goodness is 100% natural butter, advertisers cannot use the words “butter,” “creamery,” or “dairy,” to describe it. Additionally, said “not butter” cannot be marketed with images of cows! What then must this “fake butter” be called? “Oleomargarine.”
Wichita, Kansas takes it water fountains seriously and doesn’t want anyone, or anything, interfering with the purity of the water.
In Wichita, it is illegal to swim in public fountains. Not only that, but it’s “unlawful for any person to throw trash or debris into any swimming pool, or to mar, deface or otherwise damage any swimming pool located in a public park in the City of Wichita.”
We wonder what their policy of ducks in fountains is?
In Kentucky, it’s illegal to dye and sell a baby chick, duckling, or rabbit.
The caveat there is “a.” It’s illegal to dye and sell one, but as long as it’s a minimum of half a dozen, it’s totally legit.
Have you ever had someone send you lunch when you weren’t expecting it? Perhaps they sent a pizza to your office because they knew you were having a rough day and wouldn’t have time to go out for lunch, or maybe your fiance sent a dozen bagels to your house the morning after your bachelorette party because he knew you and your friends would need a bit of carb-loading. This is sweet, right?
Not in Louisiana. In the “Crawfish Capital,” it’s illegal to send food to someone without their knowledge. So much for “no good deed goes unpunished.”
In South Berwick, Maine, it’s illegal to park in front of Dunkin’ Donuts!
This law was enacted due to the location of the downtown donut hot-spot, as parking in front of the chain was leading to traffic jams.
Have you ever sworn under your breath (or out loud) while driving? In Rockville, Maryland, doing so can get you thrown in jail for up to $90!
In Rockville, it’s illegal to use profanity while driving “near any street, sidewalk or highway within the hearing of persons passing by, upon or along such street, sidewalk, or highway.”
Some crazy laws are so common sense we wonder why they had to be enacted into a law in the first place. Massachusetts’ “golf ball” law is one of them.o
In Massachusetts, it’s illegal to make, sell, or own explosive golf balls. We should hope so! But why limit this law to just golf balls. Shouldn’t baseballs, basketballs and tennis balls be included?
One of the best things about Europe is traveling by train – especially because the trains have bars!
Don’t expect that in Michigan. In Michigan, it’s illegal to get drunk on a train or ride a train while intoxicated. While we understand the thought behind this, we also disagree: if riding the train while intoxicated will prevent a person from driving a car while intoxicated, then, by all means, take the train.
In Minnesota, though shalt participate in contests to chase and pigs, “greased, oiled, or otherwise.”
It is also illegal to throw turkeys and/or chickens in the air with the intent to catch them, which has us baffled. Does this mean it’s legal to throw them into the air without the intent to catch them?
In NYC, it’s required for all chain restaurants to post calorie counts on menu boards and have fullnutritional information available.
In Mississippi, the opposite is true: in 2013, lawmakers made it illegal for towns to force restaurants to include nutrition label information on kids’ meals. Mississippi has the second highest rate of obesity in the US (after West Virginia), so it seems that including nutritional information could be a good thing. People don’t’ always realize the number of calories in what they’re eating and often mistake calorie-drenches foods such as Caesar salads as “healthy”
In Missouri, it’s illegal to drive with an uncaged bear in your car.
We thought this law was completely archaic and of common sense until we learned about the Canadian man who brought a bear through a drive through for ice cream last week.
Have you ever wanted to have a pet rat? If so, don’t move to Montana.
In Montana, it’s illegal to give someone a rat as a gift. In fact, it’s illegal to even raise rats unless you’re raising them for food for reptiles, birds of prey, or both.
Have you ever had a CoronaRita?
If you live in Nebraska you probably haven’t (at least not legally). In Nebraska, it’s illegal for bars to serve beverages that combine liqu0r and beer.
In the city that never sleeps, it’s illegal to sit or lie down on the sidewalks.
This is something we can get behind. Sidewalks are meant for walking, and if everyone decided to just sit down it would completely screw up pedestrian traffic!
29.) New Hampshire
There are some beautiful cemeteries in New Hampshire, but it’s illegal to have picnics in them.
This is one of the crazy laws we disagree, with. If you’re in mourning and want to visit a deceased loved one, why shouldn’t you be able to bring your lunch and sit down?
30.) New Jersey
Please make sure that if you visit the garden state, you don’t wear your bulletproof vest and try to pump your own gas, otherwise, you’ll be hit with two penalties!
31.) New Mexico
In New Mexico, you’re not allowed to vote if you’re an “idiot”: “[e]very citizen of the United States who is over the age of twenty-one years and has resided in New Mexico twelve months, in the county ninety days, and in the precinct in which [he] the person offers to vote thirty days, next preceding the election, except idiots, insane persons and persons convicted of a felonious or infamous crime…”
We wonder if the definition of an “idiot” is subjective or if they have a rating scale?
32.) New York
In New York, it’s illegal to take a selfie with a tiger. This is for both the protection of the selfie enthusiast, as well as the animal, who would likely be drugged for the photo.
No word on whether or not people can take selfies with bears, though.
33.) North Carolina
North Carolina takes bingo seriously.
Not only is it illegal to play more than 10 hours of bingo, but it’s illegal to play drunk bingo! Guess if you want to play drinking games you’ll need to stick to cards. Dakota
34.) North Dakota
Pigeons are smelly, dirty and obnoxious, but in North Dakota, it’s illegal to kill them.
At least it’s illegal to kill them without a permit. If you live in North Dakota and want to shoot some pigeons, just make sure you apply for permission first!
If you’re a criminal in Ohio and feel like going on a crime spree, consider doing it on a Sunday.
Why? Because it’s illegal to be arrested on a Sunday, or the on the 4th of July! This doesn’t likely apply to serious crimes, but if you feel like committing a less serious crime (like getting a fish drunk, which is apparently one of Ohio’s crazy laws), consider doing it on a Sunday.
If you happen to be driving in Tulsa, Oklahoma and hit and kill a skunk, don’t consider using the skunk carcass to make glue out of. This is illegal.
Why this became a law we don’t know, but it’s one we’ll happy abide by!
In Oregon, hunting in cemeteries is prohibited and can result in a fine up to $5,000. We imagine this is because cemeteries are public spaces filled with people, and hunters definitely should not be shooting bullets in places where people can easily get hurt.
Ghost hunting is still okay, just make sure not to use actual bullets.
If you live in Pennsylvania, it’s illegal to charge someone to cast a spell or hex on a person. It’s also illegal to engage in fortune telling, palm reading, and tarot card readings!
The above are considered “fortunetelling” and, under Pennsylvania law, fortunetelling is a third-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.
39.) Rhode Island
We never knew there were so many laws surrounding pickles!
In Rhode Island, it’s illegal to throw pickle juice on a trolley. Apparently, it’s acceptable to throw the juice at busses and cars, just not trolleys.
40.) South Carolina
If pinball was one of your favorite games growing up, you obviously didn’t grow up in South Carolina.
For some strange reason, one of South Carolina’s crazy laws states that minors (people under the age of 18) may not play pinball. Violators can be issued a status offense.
41.) South Dakota
Don’t go rubbing balloons on your head in Huron, South Dakota between 7 AM – 11 PM. Why? It’s illegal to intentionally cause static!
If you want to make some static, make sure to do so after 11 PM.
If you live in Tennessee and are looking for ways to save money, consider buying in bulk. Do not consider sharing a Netflix account with a friend.
Sharing Netflix, Hulu, or other subscription membership site passwords is illegal and can result in heavy fines.
If you’re visiting the Alamo in Texas, do not under any circumstances relieve your bladder on the Alamo.
A 23-year old El Paso resident recently learned this lesson the hard way after a ranger caught him peeing on the Alamo. Not only has he been publically shamed by having his name released in every news story, but he’s also had to hire a lawyer and pay a $4,000 fine! And he got off lucky. He could have spent 18 months in jail.
There certainly are a lot of crazy laws about fishing!
In Utah, it’s illegal to fish with a cross-bow. It’s also illegal to shoot crayfish with a pellet gun.
Vermont may be progressive when it comes to gay rights, but it’s still in the dark ages with women’s dental rights.
In Vermont, it’s illegal for women to get fake teeth without their husband’s written permission. Talk about jaw-dropping crazy laws!
Virginia is all about ruining holidays for kids! Well, at least ruining Halloween for tweens.
In Virginia, it’s illegal to go trick or treating if you’re over the age of 12. It’s also illegal to wear a mask in public on any day of the year other than Halloween. So much for masquerade balls!
If you find and catch a Sasquatch in Washington, it’s illegal to kill it, as they are considered endangered species. While it used to be a felony, nowadays it’s a misdemeanor, but the offender still faces a fine and or jail time.In case you were wondering, a “Sasquatch” is interchangeable with the words “Bigfoot” and “Giant Hairy Ape.”
48.) West Virginia
West Virginia has a legit swear jar.
In the Mountain State, “If any person arrived at the age of discretion profanely curse or swear or get drunk in public, he shall be fined by a justice one dollar for each offense.”
If you live in Wisconson and your child wants to have a lemonade stand, that’s fine. Just make sure your child doesn’t sell any baked good!
In Wisconsin, it’s illegal to sell homemade baked goods, and doing so can result not only in heafty fines, but up to six months in jail!
In Wyoming, if you better close a fence gate behind you. Failing to do so can result in fines of up to $750!
Apparently, this isn’t just for public property, but can affect private property as well: “neglect to close a gate or replace bars in a fence which crosses a private road or a river, stream or ditch” is a big no-no.Are there any crazy laws you’ve come across in your state? Tell us in the comments!