Weird, Funny and Strange Laws in the United States
The many U.S. state and city legal codes contain some silly and often times stupid laws. Some of these laws were left on the books from a time long past while others were enacted recently but just worded poorly. Below are fifty of the weirdest laws out there, divided by region of the United States. Which division do you think is the strangest?
Take a look at this federal law. One illegal act that is often overlooked is Genocide. According to the U.S. Code Title 18, Part I, Chapter 50A, the killing of an entire racial or cultural group can lead to a fine of up to $1,000,000.
- In Rhode Island there is a twenty year prison sentence instated on anyone who maliciously mutilates or disables another individual. This law is completely reasonable, except for a clause that bans biting off limbs. Good luck chewing through someone’s thigh.
- Just bought a racing horse? Don’t test its speed on a Rhode Island highway. There is a $20.00 fine and an additional ten day jail sentence. Also, there will probably be cars moving at high speeds.
- In New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Park, anyone caught raking, picking up litter or building a bench will be fined $150.00 for “maintaining the national forest without a permit.”
- In New Jersey, it is a second degree felony to wear a bullet proof vest while murdering someone. What is the logic here: The victim cannot be guaranteed safety from murder, but they should be confident they can shoot their assailant dead for protection?
- When you’re pulled over in an automobile by a cop, it is not uncommon to be asked “Do you know why I pulled you over?” New Jersey has made the specific retort “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you” a $300.00 fine.
- Massachusetts has passed a law stating that candy may not contain any more than 1% alcohol in its ingredients. Should a manufacturer violate this regulation, they may be fined up to $100.00. Looks like we won’t be getting drunk this Halloween.
- Sometimes morphine just doesn’t do the job. Sometimes the hospital patient wants a beer. In Massachusetts, giving beer to a hospital patient is met with a fifty dollar fine, or violators could serve a jail sentence of up to two months.
- There is a $10.00 fine for defacing a milk carton in Massachusetts. Are children expected to pay for forts for their action figures?
- Christmastime is magical, from the lights and stockings to the smell of pine and gingerbread. But there is a point at which Maine becomes sick of it. That day is January 14th. If you haven’t taken down your Christmas decorations by this date you will be fined.
- Don’t take the time to believe it’s not butter, just get the butter instead. In Wisconsin it is illegal to serve butter substitutes to students, patients and inmates. Any person in an institution found doing so may be fined between $100.00 and $500.00 and risk three months prison time.
- Going camping this weekend? Why not set up your tent on a Wisconsin highway? The fine is only $10, but the adrenaline rush of almost being hit by thousands of speeding vehicles is priceless.
- If an individual is reckless in suggesting sexual activity to someone of the same sex, it is considered a fourth degree misdemeanor in Ohio.
- It is a first degree misdemeanor not to inform Canton, Ohio authorities within one hour of losing an exotic pet. Calling the cops may seem obvious, but if this law were repealed there would coincidently be a tiger mauling the very next day.
- Littering generally incurs a fine. However, Grand Haven, Michigan got quite specific. They have made it so that throwing an “abandoned hoop skirt” into the street will be met with a five dollar fine.
- Someone tell Lil Wayne to cancel his next show in Collinsville! The Illinois city has made it illegal to wear pants that sag more than three inches below the hips. Violators are at risk of a $100.00 fine and forced community service.
- Hate rats? Love baseball? Well, in Galesburg, Illinois you better not have those two feelings at the same time. The city will fine anyone $1000.00 for beating rats with bats.
- Mispronouncing the name of Joliet, Illinois is a misdemeanor within the town itself and violators are subject to a $5.00 fine.
- In Indiana, using the Lord’s name in vain will result in a three dollar fine. However, there is a maximum fine of ten dollars per day, so if you’ve paid your stipend you legally have free speech. Wait, wasn’t there a different document guaranteeing free speech?
- Statutory rape is a serious crime. In Indiana, if an adult male is found in a car with a girl under the age of seventeen with no socks or shoes, they will be arrested with a statutory rape charge.
- In Indiana there is a document known as the Act to Prevent Certain Immoral Practices. Part of its text states that there is a three dollar fine for any paid puppet show, wire dancing act or tumbling act. Sounds like the Pacers should raise the fee for their halftime show.
- In Virginia it is a class 1 misdemeanor to park your wagon on railroad tracks. It seems a sensible law except that it wishes not to “endanger a moving train.”
- There is an elaborate law in North Carolina that outlines the amount of tax that needs to be paid on illicit drugs. Of course, paying these taxes would indirectly be confession to possession. Did the North Carolina government think that they would catch someone this way? Or perhaps they fine dealers for both trafficking and tax evasion.
- Don’t give anyone any ideas! In Mississippi it is a $25.00 – $500.00 fine to teach another person the concept of polygamy.
- If you haven’t met the perfect spouse by age twenty-one then you’re not trying hard enough. In 1820, Missouri enacted a one dollar annual tax to all single men between the ages of twenty-one and fifty.
- In West Virginia, someone can be thrown in jail for cooking sauerkraut or cabbage because of the unpleasant odors.
- In Florida there is a $78.00 fine for a motorist who hits a pedestrian. If you just got your Christmas bonus, why not drive through the mall on the way home from work?
- In Baltimore, Maryland there is a $10.00 fine for wearing a sleeveless shirt in a public park. Fortunately, the law says nothing about legless pants.
- For most people, it is obvious that causing widespread injury is a serious felony. In Utah, “causing a catastrophe” is also a class A misdemeanor if it was done recklessly.
- In Provo, Utah there is a $50.00 fine for throwing snowballs. Can’t the kids just have their fun?
- In Oregon, a driver must yield to all pedestrians, not just ones crossing the road. The law technically suggests giving each and every individual on the sidewalk a chance to cross the street before you pass them by. This includes those walking down the sidewalk. Not doing so is a Class B traffic violation.
- When in Yamhill, Oregon it’s best not to think ahead. Predicting the future is considered an occult art and doing so is a misdemeanor.
- There is a $2000.00 fine for attending a bear wrestling exhibition in Oregon. Honestly, that sounds like an alright price to witness beastly slaughter. However, when was the last bear wrestling match? It isn’t exactly easy to cart bears around town, let alone catch them.
- Not sure if someone snuck this one in at the last minute, but according to the City Ordinance 349 of Wichita, Kansas, every motorist is required to fire three gunshots into the air when at the Douglas and Broadway intersection. If they don’t do so, they may be fined.
- How many times did your mother or father tell you to close the fence so the dog wouldn’t run away? Well, the dog isn’t the riskiest part in Wyoming. Anyone who neglects to close a fence in Wyoming may be fined up to $750.00.
- You can insult, taunt and challenge police officers in Boulder, Colorado. That is, only until they ask you to stop. Get the best insults out of your system in the first breath.
- In Colorado, there is a constant legal battle: who has more authority, the state or the mattress companies? The state says that those pesky “do not remove this tag” notices may be removed from mattresses and pillows. The impact was felt in Raymour & Flannigan stores from Grand Junction to Lamar.
- Ever catch a snowflake on your tongue? Well, if you do that in Colorado, you would be stealing. In Colorado, all of the water that falls from the sky is considered government property. There is even a fine for using collection barrels without a permit: $500.00 per day, per barrel!
- Is a cactus blocking your view of that beautiful desert oasis? Too bad. In Arizona, cutting one down can land you in prison for up to twenty-five years!
- In Mohave County, Arizona, any person caught stealing soap must then wash with the soap until it’s gone. Won’t the long shower contrast with the idea of water conservation?
- It is illegal to set off a nuclear bomb within Chico, California city limits. That seems obvious, but pertinent. If by chance you do set off a nuclear bomb in Chico, you are risking being fined $500.
- In Pacific Grove, California there is a $500.00 fine for molesting butterflies. Perhaps the more appropriate word would have been harassing. “Molest” carries a sexual connotation. But who knows? Maybe there really was a molestation case that sparked the law.
- In Los Angeles, it is illegal for dogs to mate within 500 yards of a church. The penalty is a $500.00 fine or six months in prison. Who accepts the punishment in this case? The dog?
- The City of San Francisco has taken out a copyright on its name, making it illegal to produce any product with the name on it without permission. Each year, the city fines copyright violators. The resulting payments contribute to the city’s massive surplus each year.
- In Juneau, Alaska there is a policy regarding scenic vistas stating buildings “that preserve scenic vistas” can be awarded bonus points.
- Panhandling is perfectly legal in Memphis, Tennessee. However, panhandlers must first obtain a $10.00 permit. This seems like the one business that shouldn’t have any start-up costs.
- Somebody in the legal system takes their crayfish very seriously. In Louisiana, a person who steals more than $500 worth of crayfish can be jailed for up to ten years and fined $3000. Rob a liquor store or steal some credit cards, just don’t mess with Louisiana crayfish.
- Ever order a pizza and have it sent to a friend’s house just for laughs? In Louisiana there is a $500.00 fine for the old trick. Next time your friend orders a pizza, say they have to pay for it or else you’ll have them fined.
- In Kentucky, handling a reptile for religious purposes will be met with a fine between fifty and one hundred dollars. This law, KRS 437.060, was passed in 1942.
- Also in Kentucky is a law forbidding the sale, exchange, display and possession of baby chicks, ducks and rabbits that have been dyed. The KRS 436.000 law was passed in 1966 and can earn someone a fine between $100 and $500. Indiana Code 15-2.1-21-13(b) states the same.
Here are Some Other Places to Check out Odd and Funny Laws
Top 10 Weird Laws
Bizarre Driving Laws