If you ever decide to start looking into your city, county and state laws, you might want to prepare yourself first. There are plenty of incredibly strange, antiquated laws spread out across the United States.
Some of these antiquated laws are just on the books because nobody’s bothered to repeal them. But many still exist because of some unfortunate wording or a desire to cover every possible contingency. No matter which state you live in, you can still find some hilariously outdated laws.
Here are a few of our favorites (accurate as of 1/29/2020):
People generally frown upon graffiti in all areas of the country, but that usually only includes public property or property that doesn’t belong to you. In Montgomery, it’s actually illegal to write or draw on buildings in general, even ones you own.
In Alaska, it’s legal to use marijuana recreationally. But the law includes a very strange caveat that is hard to even understand. The state has made it illegal to consume marijuana if you have an “intent to disturb.”
Many people raise different kinds of animals, and if you live in a rural area, those animals may include pigs. But Arizona wants to make sure you’re keeping those pigs well-fed. If you want to feed garbage to pigs, even if they’re your own pigs, you’ll have to get a permit from the state.
This one is just too strange to make up. Little Rock has a law that makes it illegal to sound your vehicle’s horn “any place where cold drinks or sandwiches are served” after 9:00 in the evening. If you need sandwich-based roadside assistance, you’ll need to go inside.
It’s important not to disturb the wildlife in any area, especially when certain areas are implementing conservation efforts for the local wildlife. In California, it’s illegal to do so. The state explicitly says it’s illegal to “annoy” animals, birds or reptiles in public parks.
Boulder is named for the fact that it’s in the mountains, which means there are a lot of boulders around. But be kind to the city’s namesake. The city has made it illegal to “roll, throw, or otherwise move” boulders sitting on public property.
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Back in the day, some refrigerators had latches or very strong suction inside, leading to worries of children accidentally locking themselves inside. That’s probably why Hartford created a law that prohibits you from leaving a refrigerator unattended if it’s accessible by children.
If you find yourself in dire financial straits, you may decide to pawn an item to quickly receive money. But although pawnbrokers accept many different items, it’s illegal for them to let you pawn artificial limbs or wheelchairs.
Dogs can cause plenty of property damage and other types of damage. In Florida, the dog’s owner is liable for damage caused by a dog with a propensity toward violence. But you can offset that liability by simply putting up a sign that includes the phrase “Bad Dog.”
Why did the chicken cross the road? In Quitman, Georgia, it was to get away from the police. At one time, lawmakers in Quitman actually made it illegal for chickens–or any other birds–to cross the road.
Mongooses are quite the exotic pet to keep, and Hawaii doesn’t want you to cause a mongoose outbreak. To that end, it requires you to receive a special state-issued permit in order to breed mongooses. If the state discovers unlicensed mongoose breeding, you could be in for a fine between $250 and $1,000.
This law actually has a sweet story behind it. Many years ago in Pocatello, the residents suffered through a long and cruel winter. To try and cheer residents up, the mayor enacted a law declaring it illegal not to smile, and it’s been on the books ever since.
Jacksonville has come up with some legal requirements for trick-or-treating, and they’re a little harsher than many people would expect. Its Halloween laws set an age limit of 13, and it mentions the practice as “solicitation, commonly referred to as trick or treating.”
Sometimes, a wild law comes up that makes you wonder what circumstances had to occur for the town to create the law. Such is the case in Indiana, where it’s illegal to catch fish with a firearm, dynamite or your bare hands.
The dairy industry is a huge part of Iowa’s economy, and it’s extremely protective of that fact. That’s probably why it’s illegal to use the words “butter,” “creamery,” “dairy,” or any imagery evoking cows if you’re selling margarine.
You probably think of dirt as being something that’s just generally public property. But Wichita is strangely protective of its dirt. It’s actually illegal to remove dirt from anywhere in the city, including the airport, if you don’t have a permit.
Laser pointers are definitely fun to play with, but Owensboro wants to make sure that fun doesn’t go too far. It’s illegal to “harass” another person with your laser pointer, so you might want to stick to playing with your cat.
Firefighting is a noble profession, and New Orleans wants to make sure that its firefighters are protected in both body and spirit. So watch your mouth during an emergency, because the city’s made it illegal to swear at a firefighter.
In Maine, people love to play bingo and even oddly refer to it as “beano.” That love for “beano” may go too far at times, though. The state has different laws for normal bingo and “high-stakes bingo,” so really hardcore players will have to go through different laws.
Many New England states come from relatively conservative backgrounds, which means there are some strangely old-fashioned laws on the books. Such is the case in Rockville, where it’s illegal to swear near a street, sidewalk or highway — but only if someone else can hear you.
Obviously, accosting someone with a projectile is illegal in most areas. But in Medford, the definition of “projectile” reaches past most other areas. Snowballs are listed alongside stones and “other missiles,” making it illegal to toss snowballs at someone else.
Most people don’t have easy access to a cannon, making cannon-based laws pretty obsolete. But Michigan isn’t taking any chances. In this state, you’ll need to get a permit if you want to fire any cannons.
Many states have animal cruelty laws, but most of them don’t stretch as far as Minnesota’s. In Minnesota, it’s expressly illegal to create a contest or game where the competitors have to catch pigs, “greased, oiled, or otherwise.”
Polygamy isn’t legal in the United States in general, but for some states, the general outlawing just wasn’t enough. That’s the case in Mississippi, where it’s not just illegal to marry more than one person — it’s illegal even to teach someone about the concept.
You probably think of garage sales as being a fun and frivolous event that allows you to sell your unneeded items. But in Jefferson City, it’s serious business. You can only hold a garage sale between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., you can only hold two per year, and you can’t have an ongoing sale for longer than three days.
Turns out, shepherding is serious work. If someone’s contracted to watch over sheep, they have to give five days’ notice if they intend to quit. Forget abandoning your own flock; it’s illegal for you to abandon someone else’s flock.
Back in the day, places like pool halls and bowling alleys had kind of a bad reputation. Even though that’s not really the case anymore, Nebraska City still has a law on the books mandating that people have to be able to see inside these establishments from the street.
Nevada might have a reputation for being a wild, fun-loving state, but that’s certainly not the case everywhere. In Carson City, even a game of catch is on strict lockdown: it’s illegal to “toss, bat, or throw any ball” in streets and alleyways.
It’s definitely rude to skateboard on the sidewalk, and in some places it’s illegal. In Meredith, the laws just add insult to injury. Not only can the police fine you up to $300, but they can confiscate your skateboard for up to 30 days.
Sure, we don’t have cloning technology right now. But what about in the future? New Jersey has that all figured out. It’s already illegal in New Jersey to clone a human, even though the technology doesn’t exist yet.
State anthems encapsulate a piece of each state’s history and culture, and in New Mexico, that culture is especially serious. If you use the state or national anthem, you have to sing it in its entirety, and you can’t use them “improperly.”
Many states regulate advertisements, but Syracuse specifically wants to make sure its eyeglass-wearing residents are safe from false advertising. Eyeglasses companies must not make any “statement of deceptive or misleading character” in advertisements.
Many organizations utilize bingo tournaments to have a fun and exciting activity for their members. But make sure you don’t go overboard. If an organization in North Carolina wants to run more than 10 hours of bingo per week, they need to get a permit.
In the early days of the United States, some people thought dancing was immoral and worried that drinking would make the problem even worse. North Dakota fixed the problem by making it illegal to dance anywhere that alcohol is served, but it never took the law off the books.
If you’re looking to get out of an arrest in Ohio, you might want to turn your attention to this old law. You can find a number of exemptions from arrest in Ohio, like if it’s Independence Day or if you’re in a court of law while court is in session.
People can make glue out of a variety of different materials, ranging from the organic to the synthetic. In Tulsa, however, it’s expressly illegal to make glue out of skunks.
Many people visit cemeteries to peacefully remember their loved ones. Oregon wants to maintain that peacefulness, but it’s done so in a rather alarming way. The state has specified that no one can hunt in a cemetery.
Federal law offers strict requirements when it comes to the buying and selling of live animals. That includes more exotic animals like turtles. But Pennsylvania decided that federal law wasn’t quite enough and restated that in this state, live turtle sales are illegal if federal law deems them so.
States have different laws against assault, and some states also include laws regarding incitement of violence. In Rhode Island, you’ll find a charmingly old-fashioned way of stating these requirements. The state forbids an individual using “fighting words” toward someone else.
Different areas have always had different worries for the safety of their children, whether with bars, billiards or adult stores. But South Carolina may have taken it a bit too far by forbidding minors even to play pinball.
Certain commercial static can make an impact on emergency radio channels. But the wording in Huron’s code of ordinances forbidding “static” between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. makes it seem like changing the channel is against the law.
Many years ago, people dueled to prove who was the better of two individuals. However, it soon fell tremendously out of fashion, and Tennessee made it a law that no one convicted of dueling could ever hold office. A side effect, however, is that the law looks pretty strange to those in the 21st century.
Picket signs can be a very effective way to showcase someone’s disapproval of a certain event. But Texas draws the line when it comes to someone who is deceased. It’s illegal in Texas to picket someone’s funeral.
In an emergency, you’d think that alcohol was the least of anyone’s problems. Apparently not in Utah, where you’re not allowed to sell alcohol during a state of emergency unless the Alcohol Beverage Control director says otherwise.
Some states have laws regarding certain weapons and objects that people can own. In Vermont, it goes much further than that. On top of other weapon restrictions, it’s illegal for someone to own a weapon of mass destruction.
Many years ago, states tended to make laws to preserve the sanctity of Sundays. When combined with old-time jobs and pastimes, however, you might find some very strange laws. That includes this weird Virginia law, which disallows the gathering of clams or oysters for commercial use on Sunday.
The Sasquatch is a legendary creature, but some people think he’s genuinely out there. To make sure he stays safe, Skamania has declared itself a “Sasquatch refuge.” If you kill Sasquatch, it’s a felony.
The streets of West Virginia are supposed to stay squeaky clean, both literally and metaphorically. A long time ago, the state instituted a fine of $1 per violation if you swear in public, making it possibly the only state with a swear jar.
Make sure you’re careful how often you water your lawn — too much, and you might find yourself on the wrong side of the law. In Sheboygan, it’s illegal to water your lawn “to the distress or annoyance of others.”
Alcohol can certainly impair your judgement, which is why drunk driving is illegal. But in the chilly region of Wyoming, you need to stay off the slopes when you’re drunk, because skiing while impaired is illegal.
The Most Important Laws Out There
Sure, these antiquated laws are all interesting and a little quirky, but for the most part, they’re fairly inconsequential. You need to pay attention to the laws with harmful consequences, including any laws that people close to you may have broken.
If you want to check up on the people around you in regards to crimes both silly and serious, use PeopleFinders. With just a name and a location, you can perform a PeopleFinders criminal records check to try and get answers regarding crimes that person may have committed. You may even see the type of crimes, including sex offenses, violent crimes and more.
Stay up-to-date on more ways to use PeopleFinders tools by reading the PeopleFinders blog.