That’s a crime? 13 current state laws that might surprise you

Gavel beside legal book

Paralegals and legal support staff are often tasked with the job of researching relevant laws in specific states and counties. Once in a while, they will come across some that are questionable, outdated, or just plain ridiculous.

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)

If you have a Saguaro cactus on your property in Arizona and you cut it down, you could be facing a class four felony charge, punishable by a jail term of one to nearly four years for a first-time offender.

#2 Beach balls and sand holes (California)

According to a county ordinance—updated in 2012, beachgoers in Los Angeles County can legally throw balls and Frisbees if they have the permission of a lifeguard, between Memorial Day and Labor Day. But if the lifeguard has said no, first-time offenders will face a $100 fine. Digging a hole deeper than 18 inches into the sand is also prohibited, except if permission to do so has been given for film and TV production services.

#3 Culinary sippers (Illinois)

Those under 21 years of age can drink alcohol legally in the state, as long as they are enrolled in a culinary program. 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.”

#4 Explosive fishing (Indiana)

According to the Indiana Fishing Regulation Guide, it’s illegal to catch a fish in Indiana with dynamite, firearms, a crossbow. On the other hand, you can’t use your bare hands or carp as live bait either.

#5 Pizza delivery (Louisiana)

Pursuant to Louisiana Revised Statutes § 14:68.6, you could be fined $500 for sending a pizza delivery to someone’s house without their permission. It is considered harassment since you’re trying to stick them with the tab for something they didn’t order.

#6 Nixing the mixing (Nebraska)

It is illegal to mix beer and liquor in Nebraska, making boilermakers, steamrollers, and black velvets off limits in the state. The Prohibition-era law was likely meant to outlaw “spiked or needle beer,” in which non-alcoholic beer that was corked like wine would have alcohol added to it (unlawfully) with a syringe.

#7 Seaweed smugglers (New Hampshire)

According to New Hampshire Title XVIII Section 207:48, it is illegal to take seaweed from the seashore below the high-water mark, “between daylight in the evening and daylight in the morning.” That’s right, the sun has to be up for your seaweed haul.

#8 Mask-free state (New York)

New York Penal Law 240.35 makes it illegal to congregate in public with two or more people while each is wearing a mask or any face covering that disguises their identity. This has been on the books since 1845 when tenant farmers dressed up as Native Americans to protest low wheat prices. Exceptions are made for Halloween and costume parties.

#9 Reining in bingo (North Carolina)

Gambling laws in North Carolina are relatively strict and most forms of gambling are prohibited. Bingo is allowed, but games can’t last more than five hours, cannot be scheduled more than twice a week (48 hours apart), and must be sponsored by a charitable organization.

#10 Lone Star secularism (Texas)

According to the Texas Constitution, no one will be legally excluded from holding public office on the basis of religious preference–as long as he acknowledges the existence of a Supreme Being.

#11 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. So if you’ve got the sniffles – obey the law and stay home!

#12 Roadside meal prep (West Virginia)

In West Virginia, it’s completely legal to take road kill home for dinner. Proponents of this law claim that it has successfully lowered the cost of road maintenance in the state.

#13 I can’t believe it IS butter (Wisconsin)

Serving butter substitutes in prisons, restaurants, and schools is against the law in Wisconsin. Butter advocates insist that a repeal of the decades-old law would undermine the state’s dairy farming industry.


Do you know of some crazy or outdated yet current state laws that are still on the books where you live? Tell us about it in the comments!

Wellness guide

More To Explore