The Strangest Law in Every State
Think twice before selling a non-bouncing pickle in Connecticut.
Living in a nation broken up into states has its advantages and disadvantages. Because of each state’s unique history, there are some laws and rules you’re going to have to follow—many of which are pretty nonsensical—if you’re planning on doing any interstate traveling.
The good news? You’d have to be trying pretty hard to break a few of these weird laws, some of which exist for reasons beyond the bounds of normal human imagination. To illustrate, we’ve rounded up the most ridiculous law in every state, so you don’t find yourself in handcuffs for taking a nap in a cheese shop or misrepresenting a pickle. And if you want to know what else differentiates each of the states, discover The One Thing People in Every State Can’t Live Without.
No Maiming Yourself — Alabama
In Alabama, it’s against the law to maim yourself with the intent to “excite sympathy” or get charitable relief.
Don’t Be Drunk in a Bar — Alaska
In most places, it’s against the law to serve visibly intoxicated people, but in Alaska, it’s against the law to let a drunk person stay in a bar. It’s also illegal for a drunk person to go into a bar, which must make for some pretty tame bachelor parties. And it might not keep you from getting kicked out of a bar in Alaska, but if you’re concerned about your health, you should know that This Is Exactly How Much Alcohol You Should Drink.
No Feeding Garbage to Pigs — Arizona
In Arizona, if you want to give trash to a pig, you need a permit. However, the need for a permit is waived if the pig is your pig, and you’re only feeding it trash from your house.
Pronounce the State Name Correctly — Arkansas
In Arkansas, while it’s not technically illegal to mispronounce “Arkansas,” there is an official way to pronounce it, and pronouncing it Ar-Kansas, is “an innovation to be discouraged.” And for more wacky tidbits about America, discover The Craziest Fact About Every U.S. State.
You Can’t Eat Specific Frogs — California
You can eat as many frogs as you want in California, as long as they didn’t die in a frog jumping contest. Those frogs are off-limits.
Vacuum Lending Not Allowed — Colorado
In Denver, it’s against the law to lend a vacuum cleaner to your neighbor, but you can lend them a broom.
Pickles Have to Bounce — Connecticut
A pickle’s not a pickle in Connecticut unless it bounces when dropped from a height of one foot. Apparently, pickle scammers tried to sell pickles that weren’t fit for human consumption in 1948, making this standard necessary. And for even more ridiculous trivia, check out these 40 Facts so Funny They’re Hard to Believe.
No Trick-or-Treating Outside Designated Hours — Delaware
Trick-or-treating must take place only between the hours of 6:00 and 8:00 PM in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The law doesn’t apply on Sundays. In fact, if Halloween falls on a Sunday, children can only go trick-or-treating the day before.
Dwarf-Tossing Is Prohibited — Florida
Dwarf-tossing caught on in southern Florida in the ’80s, so a law was passed that makes participating in or permitting any kind of dwarf-tossing punishable by a fine of $1,000.
Stays on Boats Have to Be Short — Georgia
If you want to live on a boat in Georgia, you’re going to have a real bad time. Stays on boats are limited to 90 days, after which you must apply for an extension from the Commissioner of Natural Resources.
No Putting Coins in Your Ears — Hawaii
You should probably invest in a piggy bank if you’re considering moving to Hawaii. Putting change in your ears is prohibited in the state.
Cannibalism Is Not Okay — Idaho
Cannibalism is specifically banned in Idaho and is punishable by up to 14 years in jail. However, if you ingest “the flesh or blood of a human being” when it’s the only obvious way to survive a life or death situation, that’s totally okay, legally.
Don’t Sleep in a Cheese Shop — Illinois
It’s written in the Illinois Sanitary Food Preparation Act that you can’t take a nap in a cheese factory, bake shop, confectionery, or creamery, so you’ll have to find someplace else to catch some Z’s.
No Shooting Fish — Indiana
You might not have to use a fishing pole if you want to catch fish in Indiana, but you aren’t legally allowed to use your bare hands or guns, either. So much for shooting fish in a barrel.
Butter Has to Be Butter — Iowa
In Iowa, butter better be butter. It is against the law for imitation butter to call itself butter. Imitation butter also can’t have the image of any type of cow on the packaging, along with the words “butter,” “creamery,” or “dairy.”
Rabbits Can’t Be Shot From a Mule — Kansas
If you decide to ride a mule while you’re out hunting rabbits in Kansas, be sure to hop off before you fire your gun at one. It’s against the law to shoot at a rabbit while you’re sitting on a mule in this state.
No Duelists in Office — Kentucky
In Kentucky, legislators, lawyers, and public officers must all take an oath swearing that they’ve never engaged in a duel with deadly weapons. Of course, this was a much more relevant law when it entered the books in 1849.
No Surprise Deliveries — Louisiana
It’s against the law to send somebody goods or services if they’re not expecting them. This is great for keeping people from sending you packages of glitter, but also means you technically can’t send your bud a surprise pizza just to show you care.
Beano Assistance Is Allowed — Maine
Before Bingo, there was Beano, which you might have played in elementary school and involves putting beans over squares on a card instead of using a marker. And there are laws on the books in Maine about Beano. Specifically, if a Beano player goes to the bathroom, it is legal for the Beano caller or their assistant to play that person’s card while they’re away from the game.
No Swearing While Driving — Maryland
In Maryland, it doesn’t matter how bad traffic is on the Beltway, swearing is illegal regardless. If you’re on or near a street, sidewalk, or highway where a person passing by might hear you, profanity is prohibited.
Dancing to the Anthem Is Prohibited — Massachusetts
Don’t even think about busting a move to the Star Spangled Banner in the state of Massachusetts. It’s been against the law to dance to the anthem since 1917, although the First Amendment probably makes that law more of a gesture than something legally enforceable.
Sparrows Cannot Be Sold as Parakeets
Thinking of painting a sparrow to pass it off as a parakeet in Michigan? Think again. Doing so in the town of Harper Woods will land you in jail.
Turkey Scrambles Are Banned — Minnesota
Turkey scrambles—contests where turkeys or chickens are thrown into the air so that people can try to catch them—are outlawed in the state of Minnesota. Understandably, they’re considered cruel.
No Portion Sizes — Mississippi
A law was passed in Mississippi to prevent any laws limiting portion sizes in any way from being enacted as a way of thumbing his nose at Michael Bloomberg, who passed an ordinance on soda while he was mayor of New York City.
Stray Bulls Can Be Castrated — Missouri
If a stray bull or ram runs wild for more than three days, anyone can castrate the animal without liability. The only hangup is that three town residents have to attest in writing that the animal was loose, and the owner has to not come round up the animal after being given notice. But other than that, castrate away.
The Show Literally Must Go On — Montana
If you start performing on stage in Montana, you are legally required to finish that performance. So don’t go onstage unless you really want to be there.
Pioneer Cemeteries Are for Everyone — Nebraska
If you own land that happens to include a pioneer cemetery, you have to let pedestrians in to visit the cemetery, but only on Memorial Day and from November 1 to March 1.
Shoe Size Must Be Determined the Old-Fashioned Way — Nevada
In Nevada, it’s against the law to use x-rays to figure out what size shoes to wear. There was actually a novel device that did exactly this called a Pedoscope that was popular until the ’70s, when people figured out they shouldn’t be blasting x-rays at their unprotected feet.
Seaweed Farming During Daylight Only — New Hampshire
It’s hard to imagine the circumstances that prompted lawmakers to pass this legislation, but it is against the law to collect seaweed from the beach at night in New Hampshire.
Showing Your Butt — New Mexico
In New Mexico, it is actually legal to show your butt. Indecent exposure is restricted to the “primary genital” area. Just something to consider if you want to go on vacation but hate wearing pants.
Running in Body Armor — New Jersey
Wearing body armor while committing a crime in New Jersey is a crime in and of itself. And if you try to run away from the crime you committed while wearing body armor, the crime of wearing body armor makes it worse.
No Selfies with Lions — New York
Because we live in a world where people think it’s a good idea to take selfies with tigers, lions, and other dangerous big cats capable of killing humans, the state of New York passed a law making it illegal to have your picture taken with a big cat unless there’s a permanent physical barrier between you and the cat—unless it’s a clouded leopard, jaguar, or mountain lion.
Bingo Hours Are Restricted — North Carolina
It’s against the law to host more than 10 hours of bingo a week in North Carolina. An organization can only host two sessions per week, and those sessions can’t last longer than five hours. The exception is bingo at a fair or exhibition.
You Need a License to Kill … Pigeons — North Dakota
If you’re in North Dakota, and you’ve got a strong hankering to kill some pigeons, you’re going to need to get a permit from the health department first.
Adequate TP Is a Legal Necessity — Ohio
In Ohio, an adequate supply of toilet paper must be provided in underground coal mines by the mine operator.
Skunk Glue Is Banned — Oklahoma
If you’re in Oklahoma, don’t you dare make glue out of skunks unless you want the law coming after you.
Keep Your Waste to Yourself — Oregon
It’s against the law to throw excrement from a moving car in the state of Oregon. It’s also against the law to leave a bottle of urine on the side of the road.
Don’t Catch a Fish With Your Mouth — Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, it’s against the law to catch a fish with your mouth, which makes Indiana’s law about catching fish with your hands seem perfectly sane and normal.
Auctioneer Impersonations Are Forbidden — Rhode Island
If you’re in Rhode Island, you don’t need to worry about whether or not you’re dealing with a legitimate auctioneer, because it’s against the law to pretend to be one. It’s also against the law to pretend to be a fence-viewer, whatever that is.
False Proposals Are Prohibited — South Carolina
In South Carolina, it’s a misdemeanor for a male over the age of 16 to falsely promise to marry a woman to seduce a her.
Marriage to a Step-Child Is Void — South Dakota
Any marriage between a step-parent and their step-child is considered void from the beginning of the marriage in the state of South Dakota.
No Netflix Sharing — Tennessee
In Tennessee, it’s against the law to use somebody else’s Netflix account, which is probably important to note if you’re taking a bus across the state.
Acknowledge the “Supreme Being” — Texas
If a lawmaker doesn’t acknowledge the existence of a “Supreme Being,” they might have to take religious tests to hold office.
No Biking Without Hands — Utah
It’s against the law in Utah to ride a bike using no hands, so you’ll have to come up with some other trick to impress your friends.
Clotheslines Can’t Be Banned — Vermont
In Vermont, clotheslines were determined to be “energy devices based on renewable resources,” which means they’re included in legislation that prevents such devices from being banned.
Mess With an Ox at Your Own Peril — Virginia
If you want to participate in an “ox activity” in Virginia, you get whatever’s coming to you. The ox activity sponsor or ox professional can’t be held liable for what happens when you’re messing with the ox.
No Bigfoot Poaching — Washington
It’s illegal to hunt or kill a Sasquatch in the state of Washington, since, if real, they must be a very endangered species.
Ferrets Can’t Be Used for Hunting — West Virginia
It’s fine to use dogs for hunting in West Virginia, but if you use a ferret for hunting, you’ve crossed the line into outlaw territory and could face at least 10 days in jail.
Cheese Must Be Pleasing — Wisconsin
Certain state-certified cheeses in Wisconsin, like Muenster and curds, must have a “highly pleasing” taste to receive a AA grade. A grade B cheese is only “fairly pleasing.”
Choose Your Junk Man Wisely — Wyoming
It’s against the law in Wyoming to buy scrap metal, rubber, rags, or paper from somebody who’s intoxicated. And if you think that’s weird, check out The 47 Weirdest Laws From Around the World.
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