I stumbled across this article from Reader’s Digest listing the dumbest laws in each state (alphabetically). I thought I should pass it along…lol
Alabama: No stink bombs or confetti
If you’re a stodgy school principal from a 1980s film, consider moving to Mobile, Alabama: Stink bombs, “funk balls,” and any object “the purpose of which is to create disagreeable odors” are strictly illegal there. Also illegal: “spray string,” confetti, and bathing in public fountains.
Alaska: No getting drunk in a bar
In Alaska it is illegal to be drunk… in a bar. Per state laws, a person who is already drunk may not “knowingly” enter a bar to drink more, or remain in the bar that got them drunk in the first place. Confusing and cruel? Yes. Outdated? Sadly, no—police actually enforce it.
Arizona: No spitting in public
In the town of Goodyear, Arizona, it is unlawful to spit “in or on” any public building, park, sidewalk, or road. Offenders may be charged a fine of up to $2,500 and six months in prison. And in case you need a reminder, it’s also just lousy etiquette.
Arkansas: Must pronounce state name correctly
Visitors beware: it is strictly prohibited to pronounce “Arkansas” incorrectly. Per the state Code, the only acceptable pronunciation is “in three (3) syllables, with the final ‘s’ silent, the ‘a’ in each syllable with the Italian sound, and the accent on the first and last syllables.” So keep your Arkan-sass to yourself—and while you’re at it, make sure you’re pronouncing these common food words correctly.
California: No nuclear weapons, obviously
It is illegal to build, maintain, or use a nuclear weapon within Chico, California city limits. A law that began in the ‘80s as a serious anti-nuke statement has taken on a second life as an Internet joke, mainly due to the purported consequences: In addition to self-annihilation, the infraction also carries a $500 fine.
Colorado: No catapulting
Sure, you may be allowed to own a catapult in Aspen—but you better not try discharging it, buddy. Flaming arrows, alas, are also off limits.
Connecticut: Pickles must bounce
A pickle cannot be sold unless it bounces. According to a 1948 article, this law became a necessity after two scheming pickle packers tried to sell pickles “unfit for human consumption” on the sly. Connecticut’s Food and Drug Commissioner at the time proclaimed that a real pickle “should bounce” when dropped from the height of one foot, leading to a new state regulation.
Delaware: Strict trick-or-treating times enforced
To prevent “mischief of any sort,” children in the City of Rehoboth Beach may only go trick-or-treating between the hours of 6pm and 8pm on Halloween—UNLESS Halloween falls on a Sunday; in that case, “such going door to door and house to house for treats shall take place on the evening of October 30” instead.
Florida: No selling children
We know that kids can be annoying but please remember that in Florida it is a felony to sell your children. You’ve been warned.
Georgia: Can’t eat fried chicken with utensils
For chicken chompers in Gainesville, Georgia, “finger-lickin’” is not a suggestion—it is mandatory. Thanks to a 1961 law added to the city code as a publicity stunt, it is illegal to eat fried chicken in “the poultry capital of the world” with anything other than your fingers. A tourist was “arrested” for such a chicken-forking violation in 2009.
Hawaii: No billboards
Hawaii’s natural beauty is an advertisement unto itself. To keep it that way, the state has officially outlawed billboards (with some exceptions) and aerial advertising, part of an “urban beautification” initiative that dates to 1927. These aren’t so much “dumb laws” as “laws that make us feel dumb for not thinking of them first.”
Idaho: No cannibalism
Idaho is the only state to have an active ban on cannibalism. Technically not a crime in the rest of the nation, cannibalism is defined as the “nonconsensual consumption” of another human—meaning, we guess, if you can get your buddy’s permission to eat his tenderloin, the feds can’t stop you.
Illinois: No “fancy” bike riding
Listen here, city slicker: Galesburg city law strictly prohibits “fancy riding” of any bicycle on city streets, particularly riding with both hands removed from the handlebars, both feet removed from the pedals, or “any acrobatic” shenanigans on your fancy velocipede. According to a Galesburg police officer, “I suspect the trick riding ordinance came during a time or concern about bicyclist safety and perhaps crashes involving bicyclists.” It is seldom enforced.
Indiana: Proper black cat etiquette on Friday the 13th
In the municipality of French Lick Springs, all black cats must wear bells around their necks on Friday the 13th. The rule was introduced on October 13, 1939, “as a war measure to alleviate mental strain on the populace,” and has technically been in effect since.
Iowa: No faking your butter
I Can’t Believe It’s Not A Misdemeanor! Any person who attempts to pass off margarine, oleo, or oleomargarine as real butter is guilty of a simple misdemeanor in the state of Iowa, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $625 fine.
Kansas: No snowballs
It may still be illegal to throw snowballs in Topeka, Kansas. Thanks to a weirdly-worded law in the city Criminal Code, it is unlawful to “throw any stones, snowballs, or any other missiles” at any person or property in Topeka, an ordinance that former mayor Bill Bunten publicly flouted by tossing a whopper at a snowy tree in 2005. “I’m going to have an ordinance drawn up to repeal this Dumb Law lest our already-crowded prisons are filled up with children who, while making a snowman, got carried away and had a snowball fight,” he later claimed.
Kentucky: No dueling
All public officials and attorneys in Kentucky must swear an oath that they “have not fought a duel with deadly weapons” nor acted as a second in another person’s duel. Good to know now; unfortunately, when the oath took effect in 1848, many would-be duelists turned to murderous street brawls instead.
Louisiana: No catfish stealing
In Louisiana it is illegal to steal someone else’s crawfish—like, really illegal. Meriting its own state law, crawfish theft in excess of $1,500 can land the offender with up to ten years prison time or a $3,000 fine. But mostly, they will have to endure the humiliation of being called shellfish for the rest of their life. [Pat’s question: Are catfish and crawfish the same thing?]
Maine: Don’t advertise on tombstones
It is forbidden to post advertisements on another person’s tombstone in the city of Wells. Part of a lengthy list of cemetery regulations, this ordinance is really a favor to would-be marketers; nobody is a worse customer than a corpse.
Maryland: No cursing while driving
Making road rage even rage-ier, it is illegal to swear or curse upon any street or highway in Rockville, Maryland. Anyone caught swearing faces a misdemeanor charge, effectively having to add $100 to the city swear jar.
Massachusetts: No dancing to the national anthem
It is prohibited to dance to the “Star Spangled Banner” in Massachusetts, thanks to an excessively patriotic 1917 law. While you try to ponder what such a dance would even look like, find solace in the fact that this law could never actually be enforced, thanks to a slightly weightier document called the First Amendment.
Michigan: Bounty hunting encouraged (then not)
Until 2006, every citizen of Michigan was encouraged to be a bounty hunter. A 1941 act titled “An act to provide for the payment of bounties for the killing of starlings and crows,” offered any citizen a bounty of three cents per each starling killed and ten cents per crow—so long as they were presented in “a state of good preservation.” The law was repealed in 2006.
Minnesota: No pig greasing
Long winters can be boring, but that’s not a good reason to hold a greased pig contest in your parlor. Since 1971, it has been considered a misdemeanor to operate, run, or participate in any activity where a pig is oiled up and released with the object of being recaptured—and the same goes for “turkey scrambles.”
Mississippi: No limits on Big Gulp size
Mississippi believes in a person’s inalienable right to consume Big Gulps. Following former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s contentious attempt to restrict the size of soft drinks sold throughout the city, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed a law preventing his state’s lawmakers from enacting rules that limit portion sizes. Thanks in part to the “Anti-Bloomberg Bill,” one in three Mississippians remains obese.
Missouri: Tarzans not welcome
Prankish Tarzans, be warned: In University City, Missouri, it is illegal to “swing upon” another person’s motor vehicle and honk their horn for them.
Come back tomorrow for Part 2 and the rest of the states!