Strange laws in every state
Strange laws in every state
States have created some odd laws over the years, from prohibiting the sale of musical instruments on Sundays to outlawing fishing for trout from the back of an animal. Some of these laws are simply outdated, such as the one requiring public officials to promise they have never fought in a duel with a deadly weapon. Others have left some outright perplexed—it’s actually illegal for unmarried persons to fornicate in Virginia, regardless of age or consent.
Each state has its share of strange laws, but many of the ones seen circling around on the Internet are myths. Stacker researched government websites and credible news sources to bring you real odd laws from each state. Some of them have been repealed since they were created, but many of them exist and are still being enforced.
See the strange laws from your state to make sure you don’t get in trouble for taking a selfie with a tiger, for example.
You may also like: Major laws passed the year you were born
Donkeys are forbidden from sleeping in bathtubs. As the legend goes, one man used to let his donkey sleep in an old tub. One day, the animal—while in the tub—was washed a mile down the valley when the town of Kingman flooded in 1924. The donkey survived the incident, but the town spent a lot of money, time, and manpower to rescue it.
Plagiarizing your schoolwork will get you more than just an honor court sentencing in Connecticut. It is flat-out illegal to sell a term paper, essay, dissertation, thesis, or any other kind of academic work.
It is unlawful in the second degree to sell cat or dog fur. If caught, one could face a $2,500 fine and be barred from owning a cat or dog for 15 years.
Minors enrolled in a culinary program are allowed to sip alcohol beverages—as long as they spit it out afterwards. The law was passed in 2012 because culinary school directors argued students need to learn how to taste wine during their early years of school, regardless of whether they were 21 years of age.
Liquor stores are prohibited from selling chilled water and soda, but they can sell the beverages at room temperature. Lottery tickets and tobacco products are fair game, however.
It’s illegal to catch fish with your hands without a permit. The permit only allows people to handfish flathead catfish—also known as “noodling”—from sunrise to sunset from June 15 through Aug. 31. Other states have deemed handfishing illegal as well. Flathead catfish are considered “top game,” and regulated as a result.
A person conducting or assisting in Beano—a form of Bingo—is allowed to play the cards for a player taking a restroom break. However, the law does not apply to high-stakes Beano.
“The Star-Spangled Banner” must be sung or played in its entirety in Massachusetts. Failure to do so can result in a fine up to $100.
It is illegal to grease or oil a pig and then release it with the purpose of the animal being captured. It’s also prohibited to release or throw a chicken or turkey with the same purpose.
Cursing in front of two or more people in public can land you in jail for up to 30 days and/or fined up to $100. The same consequences apply for being drunk in front of two or more people in public.
Up until recently, if you wanted to braid hair for profit in Missouri, you needed to obtain a license, which required 1,500 hours of cosmetology classes and could cost at least $12,000. This law was considered unjust, as it mostly impacted women of color. In June 2018, lawmakers signed a bill saying braiders would now (4–6 hours).
Guiding animals onto train tracks with the intention of injuring the train corporation is punishable by a fine up to $50,000 and five years in prison. In 2011, more than 800 antelope and deer were killed on Montana’s train tracks during winter, but there was no mention of the animals being intentionally brought on the tracks by a person.
It is illegal for persons suffering from a venereal disease to marry. Until 2007, the state also required that women applying for a marriage license get a blood test for rubella.
Throwing objects from a chairlift is illegal in Nevada. The law was introduced in 1987 and applies to skiers and snowboarders.
In 1973, the state banned collecting seaweed at night. Those caught doing so are “guilty of a violation,” but no specific punishment is listed.
It is illegal to wear a bulletproof vest while committing murder or another violent crime. Doing so can bump up the act to a second- or first-degree crime.
It is considered a misdemeanor to improperly use the National Anthem through singing, playing, or rendering the song in a public space. The law also applies to the official state song, "Oh Fair New Mexico.”
It is illegal to take a selfie with a tiger. The law was created in 2014 to prevent maulings at circuses and fairs, where members of the public can interact with tigers. Breaking this law results in a $500 fine.
Bingo sessions are not allowed to exceed five hours, and only two sessions may be held per week at a single establishment. In addition, two bingo sessions may not be held within a 48-hour period. These laws don’t apply to bingo games at fairs, so maybe the state just needed to crack down on retirement homes.
Exterminating pigeons or other harmful wildbirds is considered illegal without a permit from the Fargo health department. They are subject to state-sanctioned pest control, however, because they are considered a public nuisance if they reside “within corporate limits” of a city.
Underground coal mine operators are required to provide “an adequate supply of toilet paper.” The law was introduced in 1995, but one would hope it should have gone without saying.
It is illegal to wrestle a bear in Oklahoma, and doing so can cost you a year in jail and/or a fine up to $2,000. Horse-tripping—the act of causing the animal to lose its balance using a rope, a stick or another object—is also illegal.
Deer and other wildlife can often be seen roaming in cemeteries, however, hunters shouldn't see this as an opportunity. Hunting in a cemetery is considered a misdemeanor in Oregon.
A license is required to play professional sports in Rhode Island on a Sunday. Ice polo and hockey are exempt from this law unless they’re played in a rink or an enclosed building on Sunday.
Musical instruments, television sets, and jewelry are just some items prohibited from being sold on Sundays. It’s also illegal to sell clothing on Sunday unless it’s souvenirs, novelties, swimwear, undergarments, or hosiery.
Members of office must “acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.” Through this acknowledgement, they are exempt from taking a religious test in order to hold office.
For a long time, Utah required restaurants to put up “Zion curtains” (7-foot-tall barrier) between the bar and the seating area to keep patrons and children from being tempted by or exposed to alcoholic drinks being made. Gov. Gary Herbert signed a law stating that from July 1, 2017, restaurants can take down the curtains, but have to either ban minors from being seated within 10 feet of the bar. Alternatively, minors can be seated 5 feet away from the bar if there is a barrier.
It’s illegal to prohibit clotheslines in the state of Vermont. Clotheslines are considered a “solar energy device” under this law.
It is a Class 4 misdemeanor for unmarried persons to have sex. Even if it’s consensual and both parties are of legal age, it is still illegal to break this law, passed in 1950 although Lawrence v. Texas “effectively decree[d] the end of all morals legislation,” indicating this would not stand up in court.
It is a Class A misdemeanor to enter a mine or sawmill while intoxicated. Hunting while inebriated is also illegal—though these just seem like smart safety precautions.