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50 Weirdest Laws by State You Never Knew Existed

Most Americans are clear on treating thy neighbor as they’d want to be treated to reduce the chance of fines and jail time. But did you know you could be breaking the law by making a face at your dog? Get ready to laugh at the strangest laws in each state.

Gathering the Data

Woman pointing at a paragraph in a book.
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The Pacific Grove Unified School District’s list inspired many of the laws covered here. Further research was done by visiting local law firm websites in each state. In almost all cases, police officers don’t enforce these laws, as many originate from 100-year or older legislation that no one has updated.

1: Alabama

Half mustache on a man.
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Men, leave your fake mustaches at home before entering holy grounds. It’s illegal to enter a church with a fake mustache in Alabama. The reason? It could cause laughter.

2: Alaska

Bear lying in a den.
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In Alaska, waking a sleeping bear to take a selfie is illegal. Harsh fines will ensue if you get caught. That’s assuming, of course, you walk out of the sleeping bear’s den alive.

3: Arizona

A cactus in Arizona.
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Want to dig up a saguaro cactus to bring home as a souvenir from Arizona? Think again. The harshest punishment for doing so is 25 years in prison. Yes, that’s years, not days.

4: Arkansas

Mosquito on a person's arm.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

It’s illegal to kill any living creature in Fayetteville, Arkansas. That essentially makes any person who’s passed through Fayetteville in the summer a mosquito-killing criminal. Despite the city’s confusing ordinance wording, it’s commonly accepted that it’s only illegal to kill any warm-blooded animal in Fayetteville.

5: California

A camel appearing to smile.
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Camel walking is illegal in Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. But only between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm. That’s right; You’re legally in the clear to walk your camel down Palm Canyon Drive at any time other than that 2-hour window.

6: Colorado

An old catapult.
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Hold your snowball catapults when traveling to Aspen. The use of a catapult to launch anything at people or property is prohibited.

7: Connecticut

Hair dresser blow drying a client's hair.
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If you’ve ever heard a beautician or stylist sing, hum, or whistle while working, they were breaking the law. While it’s unlikely you’ll watch your hairdresser carted away by the police for humming their favorite tune, it’s believed the law dates back to church-inspired rules.

8: Delaware

Dog laying in a beach chair.
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If you walk into a Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, public restroom wearing one outfit, you mustn’t exit wearing another, or else you’ve broken the law. That includes changing from a bathing suit to clothes or vice versa. This is a beach we’re talking about here.

9: Florida

A horse's eye.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

You’ll need to resist the urge to steal a horse when visiting Florida. The punishment? Hanging. While the Eighth Amendment still lists hanging as a punishment for horse death, law enforcement no longer follows its advice (obviously). Instead, horse thieves are slapped with as much as five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine.

10: Georgia

Rake lying in a lawn.
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Rake ownership is mandatory in Acworth, Georgia. The law was politically motivated when nearby Kennesaw City passed a law in 1982 saying all its residents must own guns.

11: Hawaii

A person flipping a coin.
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Putting coins in your ears is illegal in Hawaii. As much as that might be a disappointment, the history behind it is grave. When the US government ordered officials to destroy all native currency, local Hawaiians began hiding coins in their ears.

12: Idaho

Man peeling a potato.
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Check your potatoes before selling them; Idaho law states it’s illegal to sell an Idaho Deluxe potato with blemishes, rot, or sun damage. The punishment if you’re caught selling a blemished potato? Up to six months in jail.

13: Illinois

Dogs looking out car window.
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Normal, Illinois has anything but a normal law. It’s illegal to make faces at dogs in the town. Yes, that means you could technically get arrested for making a face at your own dog.

14: Indiana

Man checking if his breath smells.
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Garlic lovers, steer clear of public places in Indiana. It’s illegal to enter theaters, public street cars, and movie houses (per the legislation’s words) within four hours of eating garlic. How they determine whether you’ve eaten garlic within four hours is up for debate.

15: Iowa

Girl on man's back holding a paper heart.
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Kisses may not last more than five minutes in Iowa. While you’re at it, men must shave before kissing their partner in public; kissing a woman with a mustache is illegal.

16: Kansas

Person looking through binoculars.
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Hunters, be mindful of where you shoot your game in Kansas. Shooting an animal from anything with a motor could land you in trouble with authorities. That includes motorboats, motor vehicles, and airplanes.

17: Kentucky

Ice cream cone in someone's jean pocket.
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Carrying an ice cream cone in your pocket is illegal in Kentucky. It doesn’t even need ice cream in it to make you a criminal. The law stems from the horse and buggy days when thieves would try to lure horses away from their owners by placing an ice cream cone in their pockets. Interestingly, this is a law that continues to be in place across many states.

18: Louisiana

Man holding a pillow over his ears.
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Snorers may be in for a rude awakening in Louisiana. It’s illegal to snore unless you close and securely lock all windows of the room you’re sleeping in. So, if you’re a snorer who wants to sleep in a Louisiana hostel, you’re out of luck.

19: Maine

Woman walking through a cemetary.
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Business owners must save their advertisements for places outside of cemeteries in Wells, Maine. There are exceptions, such as signs pertaining to a cemetery’s operation.

20: Maryland

Person with a plate of fruit on their legs by water.
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Eating is illegal while swimming in the ocean in Maryland. Try telling that to summer beachgoers. The good news is that you have a higher chance of choking on food while swimming than a police officer fining you for it. Perhaps that’s not such a silver lining after all.

21: Massachusetts

Three sandwhiches.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

According to Massachusetts law, there’s a cap on how many sandwiches mourners can consume at a wake. The number? Three. So, you best watch your appetite before attending a Massachusetts wake.

22: Michigan

Woman with a map over her face.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Michigan, the home state of General Motors, has a law that businesses can’t sell cars on Sundays. The exception is if a county’s population is under 130,000. Although the police no longer enforce this law, which originated to encourage more people to attend church, many dealerships in Michigan continue to close their doors to customers on Sundays.

23: Minnesota

Three car tires.
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Dirty tires are a crime in Minnetonka, Minnesota. “Dirt” constitutes many things, including mud, litter, sticky substances, and other materials. The rule falls under Minnetonka’s Public Nuisance law category.

24: Mississippi

Child with hands on face.
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People with more than one illegitimate child in Mississippi are subject to imprisonment between 30 to 90 days and/or paying a fine of up to $250. All illegitimate children one has after the second child must undergo jail time again, plus a fine of up to $500.

25: Missouri

Firefighter with a hose.
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It’s illegal in St. Louis City for an on-duty firefighter to rescue an unclothed woman from a burning building. It’s also against the law to rescue women from fires who are wearing nightgowns. Thankfully, modern-day firefighters can ignore this law without the threat of legal ramifications.

26: Montana

Sprinkler beside a sidewalk.
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Helena, Montana, could teach the rest of the US a lesson. It’s illegal for homeowners to place a sprinkler, hose, or any other type of water onto a sidewalk that may annoy passersby. We can only hope the city informs Helena’s newbies about it when they move in.

27: Nebraska

Man eating onion rings.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Barbers, listen up. If your lifelong dream has been to work at a barber shop in Waterloo, Nebraska, you’ll need to hold yourself back from eating onions between 7:00 am to 12:00 pm. The 1910 law was passed after one too many customers complained about smelly breath.

28: Nevada

Lottery balls.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Don’t go looking for a state lottery in Nevada, for it’s strictly prohibited. That’s right — the state notorious for gambling bans its residents and visitors from playing the lottery. The silver lining? Charity raffles are permitted.

29: New Hampshire

Ocean washing over seaweed on shore.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

No seaweed for you, says New Hampshire. Collecting and/or carrying away seaweed below the high-water mark at the beach is illegal. But there’s a catch: The law only applies between daylight in the evening and daylight in the morning.

30: New Jersey

Man holding up his hands.
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The Borough of Raritan, New Jersey, demands you keep your potty mouth to yourself. Swearing is against the law there, and police can give you a ticket if they catch you saying profanity in public.

31: New Mexico

Horses in a pasture.
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Tripping a horse is illegal in New Mexico, and the convicted will be slapped with a misdemeanor. However, if you trip a horse so badly that it results in maiming or death, it becomes a 4th-degree felony in New Mexico’s eyes. The punishment? As much as 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

32: New York

Woman holding thumb to her nose.
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Greeting someone by putting your thumb to your nose and wiggling your fingers is illegal in New York. This British gesture developed an offensive tone in the state, causing lawmakers to pass a law forbidding it.

33: North Carolina

Alabama cotton field.
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Using elephants to plow cotton fields is illegal in North Carolina. Lawmakers pushed this regulation into place after seeing the mistreatment of elephants used to plow North Carolina’s cotton fields.

34: North Dakota

Elk in the wild.
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Here’s a heartbreaker: You may not keep an elk in a sandbox in North Dakota. Should you wish to own an elk, you must house it elsewhere.

35: Ohio

Whale tail in ocean.
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It’s illegal to fish for whales on Sunday in Ohio. That’s a head-scratcher, given that it implies whales live in Ohio’s water. Newsflash: They don’t.

36: Oklahoma

Cowboy hat leaning against cowboy boots.
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Oklahoma bans the placement of the hind legs of a farm animal into one’s boots. The law doesn’t appear to extend to domesticated animals. So, you’re in the clear if you dressed up Fido with boots and used the hashtag “Oklahoma” on your Instagram account.

37: Oregon

Open basement door.
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Yamhill, Oregon, doesn’t appear to trust its residents to look out for themselves. It’s illegal to leave one’s basement door open.

38: Pennsylvania

Fisherperson holding a carp.
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Catching a fish in Pennsylvania with a net or your bare hands is illegal. Furthermore, it isn’t permitted to use goldfish, koi, carp, and comet fish as bait.

39: Rhode Island

Bowl of pickles.
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You’d be wise to keep your pickle juice to yourself in Rhode Island. Throwing pickle juice on a trolley is against the law.

40: South Carolina

Stop sign.
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Most of us drive non-horse-driven vehicles these days. So, according to South Carolina law, you’ll need to have a firearm handy; it’s against the law to drive up to a four-way or blind intersection without first stopping 100 feet away to discharge your firearm into the air. The purpose? To warn all the horse traffic coming your way.

41: South Dakota

Sunflower field.
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It’s illegal to use fireworks to protect sunflower crops in South Dakota. Whether that law extends to other crops is unclear. South Dakota grew tired of sending firefighters to put out fires when desperate farmers resorted to fireworks to keep pesky birds away.

42: Tennessee

Woman talking on the phone.
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Women, don’t become enamored with a man in Oneida, Tennessee. It’s against the law for a woman to call a man on the phone and ask them out. Luckily for the unknowing, it’s unlikely you’ll encounter police enforcing this law nowadays.

43: Texas

Buffalo staring at the camera.
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Be mindful of where you shoot buffalo in Texas. You’re probably in the clear if you see one in your backyard. But shooting a buffalo from a second-story hotel window? Forget it. That’s a fast-track way to become a criminal.

44: Utah

Woman dressed up in a hat.
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If you wear a hat at a theater in Utah, make sure to wear it low. Wearing one’s hat high is a misdemeanor, according to a law passed in 1898.

45: Vermont

Woman smiling with dentures.
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Women can’t legally get dentures in Vermont without written permission from their husbands. Luckily, women will be hard-pressed to encounter a Vermont dentist who requires such permission from this 1856 law.

46: Virginia

Racoon clinging to a tree.
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Virginia is a bad place to be a raccoon. Hunting animals on Sundays is illegal in Virginia. The exception is raccoons, which one may hunt on Sundays as long as they do it before 2:00 am.

47: Washington

Bigfoot sign.
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Washington takes Bigfoot seriously. It’s a crime to harass this hairy, humanlike creature that allegedly inhabits North America’s forests.

48: West Virginia

Woman holding a sword.
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Be careful of who you pick your duels with when visiting West Virginia. You could end up with as many as six months in jail for taunting someone who doesn’t wish to participate in a duel with you.

49: Wisconsin

A knife with margarine.
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Wisconsin loves its butter to the point where it banned the sale of margarine from 1895 to 1967. Despite changes to legislation since then, some old laws slipped through. It’s technically illegal for a Wisconsin restaurant to serve margarine unless a customer specifically asks for it.

50: Wyoming

Men cheering with beers.
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Wyoming residents and visitors need to be careful where they drink. Being in a mine under the influence of alcohol can land one a fine of up to $500 and as much as a year in jail.

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This article was produced and syndicated by A Piece of Travel.

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