People of America, take note. You could pride yourself on being the most law-abiding citizen of your region, but if you live in South Carolina and ever played pinball as a child, you’re not only an arcade guru, but a lawbreaker as well.
From legalized incest to harsh restrictions on fortune tellers, here are our favorite, totally true, craziest laws in each state.
Since we’re personal injury lawyers, we checked the books for each of these strange state laws to make sure it’s 100% real. If you don’t believe us, we hyperlinked to each law’s full text in the description. Enjoy!
We’ll start out this list of strange laws by state with Alabama, which has one bizarre law on the books. Incestuous marriages – between two people who are very closely related – are legal. You might not go to jail if you marry an immediate family member in Alabama, but there’s still a chance you’ll end up on a daytime talk show.
According to Alaska law, a drunk person may not “knowingly” enter or stay in an establishment where alcohol is sold. So if you’re in a bar, you better not get drunk.
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If you want to feed pigs garbage, you’ll need a special permit that must be renewed each January. Importantly, this does not apply to you if it’s your own pet pig that you raised for personal use. Feed them all the garbage you’d like.
It’s been illegal to mispronounce the state’s name since 1881.
The way we say “Arkansas” reflects the state’s heritage: it’s a Sioux word with a French pronunciation.
If a frog dies in a frog-jumping contest, it must be destroyed immediately, and may not be eaten according to one weird California law.
This section of the Fish and Game Code was a response to the Calaveras County Fair, where a frog-jumping competition is held every year. Some frogs release harmful chemicals after dying, so it’s an effort to protect the public.
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It’s illegal to ride a horse while under the influence. This law is still enforced: in 2013 a man was charged for drunk-horse-riding, and was issued a traffic infraction.
If you want to legally sell pickles here, the pickle must bounce.
In 1948, two men were arrested for selling rotten pickles. The state Food and Drug Commissioner stated the little-known fact that pickles that are safe to eat bounce when dropped from the height of one foot.
Drive-ins may not show R-rated movies, as minors could potentially be present, ever tainting their youth.
All doors of public buildings must open outward.
In 1891, Florida officials were concerned about fires, and wanted to make sure crowds could exit immediately.
In Athens-Clarke County (where Atlanta is located) it’s illegal to whistle, sing, or shout in a manner that is “plainly audible” on both public and private property between 11:00 pm and 7:00 am.
It’s legal to ride in the back of a pickup if there are no seats available on the inside of the truck. As long as riders sit on the floor, you know, for safety.
It’s illegal to sweep dirt and other debris onto the street in the town of Eagle.
You may not sleep in a cheese factory, bakeshop, kitchen, dining room, or any place where food is prepared, served, or sold. Unless, of course, the food is “at all times” hermetically sealed.
State code specifically regulates the temperature of certain beverages. Businesses cannot sell cooled water or soda, for example, but can sell room temperature soda.
If you want to legally throw bricks (or shoot arrows) onto the streets of Mount Vernon, you need to get written permission from City Council. This is one of the more strange state laws still in effect because there’s always the possibility that they’ll approve it.
In Derby, it’s illegal to drive a car in a way that makes the tires screech. Screeching tires is a misdemeanor, punishable by $500 and 30 days in jail.
You cannot dye a baby chick, duckling, or rabbit any color. You also cannot sell or give away these animals, unless there are more than six of them. Violators face a $100-$500 fine.
You cannot mock or insult anyone involved in a boxing match.
It’s illegal to park in front of a Dunkin Donuts in South Berwick.
It’s illegal to have road rage: no one can swear or use obscene language on or near any street, sidewalk, or highway if anyone could hear you.
It’s illegal to sell or play golf with exploding golf balls in the state of Massachusetts, and repeated violations can land you in jail.
It’s illegal for any man to seduce any unmarried woman. This is a felony, punishable by five years in jail or $2,500 in the state of Michigan.
A dumb law in Minnesota has declared it a misdemeanor to run or participate in greased pig contests or turkey scrambles.
A law from 1942 makes it illegal to have more than one child outside of marriage.
Bear wrestling is a misdemeanor. If you survive a man vs. bear wrestling match in Missouri, you could be charged.
Speaking of stupid laws, you cannot bring a rocket with you to city council meetings in Billings. But you can in the rest of Montana?
According to Nebraska’s laws, it is illegal to get married if you’re under the age of 17 or have a venereal disease.
In Reno, Nevada, it’s illegal (a form of disorderly conduct) for anyone to sit or lay down on public sidewalks.
It’s illegal to carry seaweed from the ocean after sunset in New Hampshire.
The law was put into effect in 1973, likely because seaweed is commonly used as fertilizer and animal feed. The law ensures everyone has a fair chance to harvest seaweed for farm use.
According to New Jersey law, it’s illegal for anyone to wear a bulletproof vest while committing or attempting to commit murder, robbery, sexual assault, burglary, kidnapping, assault, or criminal escape.
The national anthem and the state song, “Oh Fair New Mexico” must be played or sung in their entirety. Cutting either song off early is against the law. If that isn’t an incentive to not start singing in the first place, we don’t know what is.
According to New York law, it’s illegal for more than two people to gather in public places while wearing a disguise or mask.
The law was created in 1845 when farmers responded to decreasing wheat prices by dressing up as Native Americans, with masks to keep their identity hidden, and attacking police officers.
The law was most recently enforced during the height of the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011. Technically, in 2021, masks are both mandated and illegal in the state.
In North Carolina, Bingo games are strictly regulated: they can last no longer than five hours, there can only be one within a 48-hour period, and the prize can be no more than $500.
All forms of human cloning are illegal, according to a 2003 statute in North Dakota. No funny business either: the law also specifically prohibits interspecies cloning.
In Akron, Ohio, it’s illegal to solicit sex from someone of your same gender, but only if they’re offended by it.
Due to its popularity in local bars, bear wrestling was made illegal in Oklahoma in 1996. The law also prohibits horse tripping.
It’s illegal to hunt in a cemetery according to Oregon law.
Fortune tellers, psychics, and tarot card readers cannot tell fortunes that result in any kind of monetary gain in the state of Pennsylvania. Any violation of this is a third-degree misdemeanor.
In Rhode Island, you cannot purposefully cut or bite off someone’s limbs, put out an eye, or slit their nose, ear, or lip, under a threat of one to 20 years in jail. If it’s an accident, you’re good.
No one under the age of 18 can lawfully play pinball in South Carolina. Presumably, this is so they will not tarnish their youth.
In South Dakota, farmers can use fireworks to scare birds away from sunflower crops – but only sunflowers, and only if it’s at least 600 feet away from an occupied church, home, or school.
In 2011, the state of Tennessee made it illegal to share your Netflix and Hulu passwords with anyone you don’t live with.
The 2011 law was an attempt to stop hackers who sell passwords in bulk. Sharing a password is a misdemeanor (a felony for repeat offenders) and carries a $2,500 fine.
In the Lone Star State, atheists cannot hold public office. According to one very weird (and unenforceable) Texas law, everyone running for office must acknowledge the existence of a “Supreme Being.”
In perhaps the stupidest law of all, in Utah, bartenders must make alcoholic drinks behind frosted glass, or another type of “solid, permanent” barrier, so patrons cannot see them.
It’s illegal to outlaw clotheslines or solar connectors. This is the most ridiculous law we could find for Vermont, making it our sanest state.
In Chesapeake, Virginia, no one over the age of 12 can go trick-or-treating on Halloween. This is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $100 or six months in jail.
In 1969, it was made illegal to kill or threaten Sasquatch, Yeti, Bigfoot, or any other “sub-species of Homo Sapiens” in the state of Washington. To do so is a felony, punished by a $10,000 fine and five years in jail.
This was the height of the Sasquatch craze, and rumors and publicity surrounding the giant hairy ape led to an increase of hunters in the Skamania County area. Officials felt the creatures – and innocent hairy humans mistaken for Sasquatch – needed protecting. Bigfoot, if you’re reading this right now, we hope you are doing so from Washington.
It’s illegal to hunt with a ferret. Doing so will land you between 10 and 100 days in jail, along with a $100-$500 fine.
Butter and cheese coming from the state must be “highly pleasing.” Don’t think you’re going to churn a mediocre batch of butter in the Badger State and get away with it, because you’re not.
Anyone attending a play, opera, or another indoor amusement event must remove their hats and headwear. Any violators will be fined.
Today’s Laws Explained
Now that we’ve reached the end of our list of strange state laws in the USA, we imagine you must be as confused as we are. Why were these weird laws enacted, and what type of situations drove lawmakers to these ends in the first place?
As you can see by these weird laws, the law can be incredibly complex. If you have questions about today’s laws as they apply to your personal injury claim, the lawyers at Pintas & Mullins are happy to schedule a consultation with you.