That’s a crime? 13 funny state laws in the US that might surprise you
You may have come across your fair share of funny U.S. laws that still persist to this day. While many of these tend to be nothing more than urban legend, there still exist a litany of laws that are sure to test your credulity.
While most laws make some amount of sense, others might only have applied to a unique scenario or during a specific point in history.
Nevertheless, here are a few of the wackier current state laws that exist in the U.S. today:
1. Cutting cactus (Arizona)
Arizona law recognizes the significance of the Saguaro cactus and has established regulations to safeguard its existence. The Arizona Native Plant Law, administered by the Arizona Department of Agriculture, governs the protection and management of Saguaro cacti. Under this law, it is illegal to harm, collect, dig up, transplant, or sell Saguaro cacti without a permit.
In Arizona, Saguaro cacti on privately owned land are protected by default, and their removal or destruction requires permission. The law also prohibits the removal of Saguaro cacti from public lands or federal wilderness areas without authorization.
The penalties for violating Saguaro cactus protection laws can include fines, restitution, and even imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offense. Additionally, organizations and individuals who wish to lawfully harvest or transplant Saguaro cacti must obtain permits and adhere to specific guidelines to ensure responsible management and conservation.
2. Right to sunlight (California)
In California, there is a law that protects the right of residents to access sunlight for their laundry needs. This law guarantees tenants the right to hang clotheslines to dry their laundry outdoors.
The law aims to promote energy efficiency, sustainability, and cost savings by encouraging the use of natural sunlight instead of electric or gas-powered dryers. By utilizing clotheslines, residents can take advantage of the abundant sunshine in California (where it is sunny 78% of the year), reducing their reliance on energy-consuming appliances and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s important to note that while this law protects the right to hang clotheslines, there may be restrictions in place to ensure they are safely installed and do not interfere with other tenants or property structures, so it’s not completely foolproof. Additionally, some homeowner associations or rental agreements may have specific guidelines or restrictions on clothesline usage.
By supporting the use of clotheslines and other practicalities that require direct sunlight, this law promotes sustainable living practices, energy conservation, and a closer connection to nature.
3. Culinary sippers (Illinois)
Illinois law permits individuals under 21 to handle and serve alcohol as part of their employment in establishments that hold a valid liquor license. This exception applies to culinary programs, allowing students to receive comprehensive training and experience in working with alcoholic beverages while under age.
Under the supervision of a faculty member or a qualified instructor, culinary students under 21 are allowed to handle alcohol for educational purposes as long as it is within the scope of their program’s curriculum.
It’s important to note that while individuals under 21 may handle alcohol in a culinary program or employment setting, they are still prohibited from consuming it. The law strictly prohibits underage individuals from consuming alcoholic beverages, regardless of their involvement in culinary programs or employment in the food and beverage industry.
The law includes instructions that the student “tastes but does not imbibe alcohol liquor for instructional purposes up to, but not exceeding, 6 times per class.”
So, no drinking, kids! Just a sip!
4. Explosive fishing (Indiana)
In Indiana, fishing laws pertaining to firearms are regulated by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR). According to the Indiana Fishing Regulation Guide, it’s illegal to catch a fish in Indiana with dynamite, firearms, or a crossbow.
The general rule is that firearms cannot be used to take fish while fishing in Indiana waters. The use of firearms for fishing is considered unsafe and can cause severe damage to the fisheries and the environment.
According to Indiana fishing regulations, anglers are allowed to possess firearms while fishing as long as they comply with state and federal laws regarding firearm possession and transportation. However, the discharge or use of firearms for the purpose of taking fish is strictly prohibited.
In short, feel free to take your gun, just don’t shoot the fish!
5. No snakes near the Mardi Gras parade (Louisiana)
According to Louisiana Revised Statute 3:2771, it is unlawful to bring or possess live snakes within specified parade areas during Mardi Gras parades or processions.
The purpose of this law is to ensure public safety and prevent potential incidents or injuries that could occur if live snakes were present in crowded parade areas. The statute defines “snake” as any nonhuman member of the reptilian class Reptilia, including venomous and non-venomous species, so no loopholes here!
The law prohibits both intentional possession of live snakes and any act that leads to the presence of live snakes within the designated parade areas during Mardi Gras festivities. Violations of this law can result in penalties and fines.
It should be noted that the law specifically targets live snakes and their presence during Mardi Gras parades. The law does not restrict the use of snake imagery, representations, or floats during Mardi Gras celebrations, so feel free to go crazy with your reptilian outfits.
6. How rude! (New York)
In New York, there is a peculiar law that prohibits greeting someone by “putting one’s thumb to the nose and wiggling the fingers.” This gesture, commonly known as the “thumbing of the nose,” is considered an unconventional and impolite way to greet or mock someone. While the origin and historical context of this law are not clear, it is an example of a relatively obscure and archaic statute that still exists on the books.
It reflects an effort to maintain civility and decorum in interpersonal interactions, promoting polite and respectful greetings, and preventing the use of obscenities that may lead to violence through incitement. However, it is essential to note that the enforcement of such laws in modern times is highly unlikely.
While this particular law may appear odd or outdated, it serves as a reminder that legal systems can contain a wide range of statutes, some of which may seem trivial or unusual. Be respectful!
7. Drunk bingo (North Carolina)
Under, North Carolina General Statutes § 14-309.8, it is illegal to operate or participate in a game of bingo while under the influence of an impairing substance. This law is essentially aimed at promoting responsible gaming practices.
Playing bingo while intoxicated can potentially lead to impaired judgment, erratic behavior, and an increased risk of accidents or disruptions during the game, as anyone who’s been to Vegas or Atlantic City can readily attest to.
By prohibiting intoxicated individuals from participating in bingo, the law seeks to maintain fairness, order, and the overall enjoyment of the game for all participants.
The specific penalties for violating this law may vary based on factors such as the level of intoxication and any prior offenses. Does this ruin the fun? We’ll let you decide.
8. Stay away from my cattle (Texas)
In the state of Texas, there is a rather funny U.S. law that prohibits milking another person’s cow. While the exact origins and reasoning behind this law are not entirely obvious, one can assume it stems from property rights and the protection of personal assets.
The law is intended to prevent unauthorized individuals from trespassing on someone else’s property, specifically in relation to livestock and their valuable byproducts, such as milk. By explicitly forbidding the act of milking another person’s cow without permission, the law seeks to safeguard the property rights of livestock owners and ensure that they have exclusive control over the use and benefits of their animals.
Enforcement of this law may vary depending on the circumstances and the intent of the individual involved. It is important to note that the primary purpose of this law is to discourage trespassing and unauthorized access to private property rather than solely targeting the act of milking cows.
Either way, stick to your own cattle!
9. Criminal colds (Washington)
This state’s RCW 70.54.050 makes it a misdemeanor to expose others to a contagious disease, even the common cold.
The law states that any person who intentionally exposes themselves or others, or any animal affected by a contagious or infectious disease, in a public place or thoroughfare, except when necessary and done in a manner that does not endanger public health, is guilty of a misdemeanor. Additionally, if a person who is affected by such a disease exposes another person to it without their knowledge, they are also considered guilty of a misdemeanor.
The purpose of this funny U.S. law is to protect public health and prevent the spread of contagious or infectious diseases. It emphasizes the responsibility individuals have to avoid exposing others to potentially harmful diseases, particularly in public spaces where transmission can occur more easily.
Good job, Washington, looks like you folks were ahead of the rest of us even before COVID! Not sure about being prosecuted for spreading a cold, however; surely a runny nose is already punishment enough!
10. Roadside meal prep (West Virginia)
The West Virginia Roadkill Removal Law, enacted in 2015, permits individuals to collect and utilize certain types of roadkill. This law was implemented to address the issue of animals being accidentally struck by vehicles and to reduce waste by allowing for the utilization of the meat from these animals.
Under the Roadkill Removal Law, individuals may salvage game animals such as deer, bear, turkey, and other species that have been unintentionally killed by motor vehicles. However, there are regulations and procedures to follow. The person who wishes to collect roadkill must promptly report the incident to a local law enforcement agency and obtain a free permit from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) before possessing or transporting the roadkill.
Aside from being a funny U.S. law, this particular piece of legislation seems to make a whole lot of sense!
11. A slice of cheese with my apple pie, please (Wisconsin)
In Wisconsin, there is a longstanding tradition and cultural practice of serving apple pie with a slice of cheese. While it may not be a strict legal requirement, it has become popularly known as the “apple pie and cheese law.” This unusual culinary pairing is rooted in the state’s rich dairy heritage and agricultural traditions.
The tradition of serving apple pie with cheese in Wisconsin can be traced back to the early settlers who were predominantly of European descent. Cheese was a staple of their diet, and it became customary to enjoy it with various foods, including apple pie. Over time, this practice became closely associated with Wisconsin’s thriving dairy industry, which produces a massive range of high-quality cheeses.
While the exact origins of the “apple pie and cheese law” remain unclear, it has become a quirky part of Wisconsin’s culinary culture. Many Wisconsinites take pride in the unique combination, believing that the savory flavor of cheese complements the sweetness of apple pie.
12. Pull your pants up! (Delaware)
Lewes, Delaware, perhaps has one of the best claims to a funny U.S. law; where there is a law that prohibits wearing pants that sag below the waistline. The law specifically targets the practice commonly known as “sagging pants” or “low-riding pants.” This law is intended to promote modesty and maintain a certain level of public decency in the community.
It’s worth noting that similar laws or ordinances exist in other jurisdictions across the United States, as the issue of sagging pants has been a topic of debate and concern in various communities.
Supporters of these laws argue that they help maintain a professional and respectful appearance, while opponents view them as a potential infringement on personal freedom and expression.
Good luck trying to get a teenager to follow this particular ordinance!
13. Keep your weapon out of the cemetery (Oregon)
In Oregon, it is illegal to go hunting in a cemetery. Cemeteries are solemn places designated for the remembrance of the deceased, and engaging in activities such as hunting within their premises is highly inappropriate.
The prohibition on hunting in cemeteries serves to preserve the sanctity of these final resting places and maintain an atmosphere of tranquility and reverence.
Looks like those pesky squirrels have a reprieve!