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Strange laws in every state

  • Strange laws in every state
    1/ Georgejmclittle // Shutterstock

    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 Some of these laws are simply outdated, such as the one requiring public officials to promise they have never fought in a duel with a deadly weapon.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 Some of them have been repealed since they were created, but many of them exist and are still being enforced.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 likeMajor laws passed the year you were born

  • Alabama
    2/ NanoStock // Shutterstock

    Alabama

    The state banned card-playing, gaming, hunting, racing, and other activities on Sunday. Those caught doing so would receive a fine between $10 and $100, and face up to three months in jail or hard labor. This strange law was eventually repealed in 2015.

  • Alaska
    3/ Ric Jacyno // Shutterstock

    Alaska

    It’s illegal for a drunk person to knowingly enter or remain on a premises where alcohol is served. Police started enforcing the law in 2012 by arresting drunk customers and the employees that served them. 

  • Arizona
    4/ Pixabay

    Arizona

    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. 

  • Arkansas
    5/ Gilmanshin // Shutterstock

    Arkansas

    Even if you’re having the luckiest streak of your life, it’s still illegal for a pinball machine to give away more than 25 free games to a player who keeps winning. The law was formed to regulate gambling when valuables are being exchanged. 

  • California
    6/ Pexels

    California

    Dogs are not allowed to pursue bears or other large mammals in California. The law went into effect in 2012 because some hunting practices were deemed cruel and unnecessary.

  • Colorado
    7/ William Shafer // Shuttestock

    Colorado

    It is illegal to ride a horse while under the influence. In 2013, Colorado police arrested a man suspected of riding his horse while intoxicated.

  • Connecticut
    8/ Wikimedia Commons

    Connecticut

    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.

  • Delaware
    9/ Max Pixel

    Delaware

    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.

  • Florida
    10/ Paramount Pictures

    Florida

    The state banned the controversial sport of dwarf-tossing in bars in 1989. It was a popular activity until David Wilson, a dwarf, died of alcohol poisoning. A legislator attempted to unsuccessfully repeal the law in 2011.

  • Georgia
    11/ Public Domain Pictures

    Georgia

    In Gainesville, people are required to eat fried chicken with their hands—one 91-year-old woman was nearly arrested for to trying to eat it with a fork. The law was originally passed in 1961 as a public relations stunt to promote the city’s chicken industry.

  • Hawaii
    12/ Anthony Quintano // Flickr

    Hawaii

    Billboards became illegal in Hawaii in 1927 through the efforts of local urban-beautification club The Outdoor Circle. There have been 18 exceptions to the law since it was passed.

  • Idaho
    13/ BLMIdaho // Flickr

    Idaho

    It used to be illegal to fish for trout from the back of any animal in Idaho. The law was formed during the early 20th century, but it has since been repealed. However, it is still illegal to chase fish up or downstream.

  • Illinois
    14/ Sergei Leto // Shutterstock

    Illinois

    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.

  • Indiana
    15/ PxHere

    Indiana

    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.

  • Iowa
    16/ Nucoa Margarine

    Iowa

    It is illegal to try to pass off margarine as butter in the state of Iowa. The law helped maintain transparency through the butter vs. margarine debate as the dairy-free alternative gained popularity in the mid-20th century.

  • Kansas
    17/ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

    Kansas

    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.

  • Kentucky
    18/ Donald Scott Lee // Wikimedia Commons

    Kentucky

    Public officers, legislators, and lawyers are required to take an oath stating they have not fought in a duel with a deadly weapon. The law was created in 1849 to deter men from participating in the once-popular tradition.

  • Louisiana
    19/ Tulane Public Relations // Wikimedia Commons

    Louisiana

    Florists are required to obtain a license in Louisiana before beginning work. The exam to obtain the license costs $150 and the licensing fee costs $75.

  • Maine
    20/ U.S. Air Force

    Maine

    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.

  • Maryland
    21/ eyesonmilan // Shutterstock

    Maryland

    It’s a misdemeanor to sell non-latex condoms through a vending machine. Doing so can cost you up to $1,000. However, condoms can be sold via vending machine on premises where alcoholic beverages are also sold. 

  • Massachusetts
    22/ Chip Somodevilla // Shutterstock

    Massachusetts

    “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.

  • Michigan
    23/ Fure // Shutterstock

    Michigan

    Adultery has been considered a felony in Michigan since 1931. In 2012, Portage police Sgt. James Myers was fired from his job for cheating on his wife while using a city-issued cell phone and email account during work hours.

  • Minnesota
    24/ LugoStock // Shutterstock

    Minnesota

    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.

  • Mississippi
    25/ RUBENBON10 // Shutterstock

    Mississippi

    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.

  • Missouri
    26/ Steven Depolo // Flickr

    Missouri

    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 (46 hours). 

  • Montana
    27/ PxHere

    Montana

    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.

  • Nebraska
    28/ Joe Raedle // Shutterstock

    Nebraska

    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.

  • Nevada
    29/ PxHere

    Nevada

    Throwing objects from a chairlift is illegal in Nevada. The law was introduced in 1987 and applies to skiers and snowboarders.

  • New Hampshire
    30/ Tom Corser // Wikimedia Commons

    New Hampshire

    In 1973, the state banned collecting seaweed at night. Those caught doing so are “guilty of a violation,” but no specific punishment is listed.

  • New Jersey
    31/ U.S. Coast Guard

    New Jersey

    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.

  • New Mexico
    32/ Wikimedia Commons

    New Mexico

    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.”

  • New York
    33/ Rrc99 // Wikimedia Commons

    New York

    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.

  • North Carolina
    34/ antoniodiaz // Shutterstock

    North Carolina

    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.

  • North Dakota
    35/ Razvan Socol // Wikimedia Commons

    North Dakota

    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. 

  • Ohio
    36/ del Monaco // Shutterstock

    Ohio

    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.

  • Oklahoma
    37/ Mikey Lemoi // Wikimedia Commons

    Oklahoma

    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.

  • Oregon
    38/ Tony Campbell // Shutterstock

    Oregon

    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.

  • Pennsylvania
    39/ Amanda Edwards // Shutterstock

    Pennsylvania

    Fortune telling is considered illegal in the state of Pennsylvania. In 2015, a woman faced trial for 55 counts of fortune telling, theft by deception, and theft by unlawful taking.

  • Rhode Island
    40/ Air National Guard

    Rhode Island

    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.

  • South Carolina
    41/ Lolostock // Shutterstock

    South Carolina

    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.

  • South Dakota
    42/ vlue // Shutterstock

    South Dakota

    In the city of Huron, it is illegal to create static between the hours of 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. The law was created to ensure static wouldn’t interfere with the receiving apparatuses for television and radio broadcasts.

  • Tennessee
    43/ Russ Amptmeyer // Wikimedia Commons

    Tennessee

    Albino deer are protected in this state, making it illegal to hunt, intentionally harm or trap the animal. It is considered a misdemeanor because albino deer are regarded as extremely rare.

  • Texas
    44/ Joseph Sohm // Shutterstock

    Texas

    Members of office mustacknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.” Through this acknowledgement, they are exempt from taking a religious test in order to hold office.

  • Utah
    45/ S_Photo // Shutterstock

    Utah

    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.

  • Vermont
    46/ Pixabay

    Vermont

    It’s illegal to prohibit clotheslines in the state of Vermont. Clotheslines are considered a “solar energy device” under this law.

  • Virginia
    47/ VGstockstudi // Shutterstock

    Virginia

    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. 

  • Washington
    48/ Georgejmclittle // Shutterstock

    Washington

    Playing online poker is illegal in Washington State, as is fantasy sports betting. A bill that would allow gamblers to place an online sports bet, but only if physically present at a tribal gaming facility, is currently with the House Appropriations Committee (as of April 3). 

  • West Virginia
    49/ גיא חיימוביץ at Hebrew Wikipedia // Wikimedia Commons

    West Virginia

    Ferrets cannot be used to hunt, pursue, take, kill, catch, or injure wild animals. Those caught breaking this law may face a $100 fine.

  • Wisconsin
    50/ Monkey Business Images // Shuttestock

    Wisconsin

    Selling home-baked goods was only recently still illegal in Wisconsin, and committing this crime resulted in hefty fines and prison time. The law was overturned after a successful lawsuit in 2016.

  • Wyoming
    51/ Michael Warwick // Shutterstock

    Wyoming

    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.

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