- Some laws were written decades ago, and are more hysterical than intimidating. Others are relatively new, but still just as strange.
- From making sure cheese is “highly pleasing” to only allowing fried chicken to be eaten with your fingers, these US laws exist but are hard or impossible to enforce.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
You might be surprised to find out swearing in public or honking your horn near a local deli may result in fines or arrests in some US states. But they can!
The most ridiculous law in every state
We scoured the internet and official government websites to find some of the strangest laws that exist today.
Here are 15 that are not only odd, but probably difficult or impossible to enforce.
In Alabama, stink bombs are outlawed.
Anyone who grew up in the 90s or earlier is probably aware of the childhood pastime of throwing stink bombs at friends or unsuspecting passerby as a prank. However, in Alabama, it’s against the law to sell or use stink balls – or anything like it that intentionally creates a bad odor.
According to Code 1965, § 41-60, it’s unlawful to “sell, dispose of, give away or use within the city or its police jurisdiction articles known as stink balls or funk balls or anything of like nature, by whatever name known or called, the purpose of which is to create disagreeable odours to the great discomfort of persons coming in contact therewith.”
In Arkansas, you can’t honk your horn near a sandwich shop after 9 p.m.
According to one law set in place by Little Rock, Arkansas, “no person shall sound the horn on a vehicle at any place where cold drinks or sandwiches are served after 9:00 p.m.” It’s unclear how enforced this law is, but the likelihood is that a cop would have to be at the right place at the right time to truly enforce this law. Stay on the safe side and avoid honking your car horn near any Subways after-hours.
In Delaware, it’s illegal to whisper in church.
According to a law enacted in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, whispering in a church is illegal and is seen as disturbing the act of peaceful worship.
However, while this law may technically still stand, it would take a particularly angry churchgoer to call the police on you for some quiet whispering.
In Florida, you can’t wear masks or hoods covering the face in public.
A Florida law states that “no person or persons over 16 years of age shall, while wearing any mask, hood, or device whereby any portion of the face is so hidden, concealed, or covered as to conceal the identity of the wearer, enter upon, or be or appear upon any lane, walk, alley, street, road, highway, or other public way in this state.”
Rest assured Halloween lovers, however. According to an article by the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the law is not enforced for “holiday costumes,” theatrical productions, or the use of gas masks during emergencies or emergency management drills.
In Georgia, it’s forbidden to eat fried chicken with a knife and fork.
This Gainesville, Georgia ordinance, passed in 1961 as a way to get publicity for the town, explicitly outlaws eating fried chicken with anything other than your hands. Although the “law” isn’t really taken literally, and is rarely enforced, one visitor was arrested for using a knife and fork to eat her fried chicken in 2009.
Gainesville Police Chief Frank Hooper reportedly informed 91-year-old Ginny Dietrick that it’s against city ordinance to eat fried chicken, “a culinary delicacy sacred to this municipality, this county, this state, the Southland and this republic,” with anything other than your fingers.
In Kansas, tire screeching is illegal.
Residents of Kansas cannot screech their tires, which has been interpreted as a breaching of the peace. The official law states that “it is unlawful for any person or persons, while operating a motor vehicle on the streets or highways of the city, to accelerate or speed the vehicle in such a manner or to turn a corner in such a manner as to cause the tires to screech.”
If you slam on the brakes fast enough or have to avoid something in the road, your car’s tires could potentially screech. Though it’s difficult to determine the extent to which this law is enforced, and perhaps a police officer would let you off with a warning in this instance, it’s best to avoid screeching your tires or speeding while travelling through this state.
In Louisiana, taking someone else’s crawfish could land you in the big house.
According to this Louisiana law, stealing someone else’s crawfish is strictly outlawed. The law states that if the theft or amount of crawfish taken amounts to less than $US500, you will be not be imprisoned for more than 6 months or fined more than $US500. However, if one was to steal more than $US1,500 worth of crawfish, the offender could serve up to 10 years in prison or pay up to $US3,000 in fines.
In Maryland, you can’t swear in public.
“Swear words” are a part of many people’s everyday vocabulary. However, in Rockville, Maryland, it’s illegal to curse, swear, or use “obscene language” near any street, highway, or footpath where people passing by could hear you.
The punishment for this misdemeanour charge is around $US100.
In Montana, you can’t have a pet rat.
In Billings, Montana, it is against the law to own, raise, or sell rats unless the purpose of doing so is to feed birds of prey or reptiles. Though it’s technically illegal to own a pet rat, a police officer would have to be in your home and see your furry friend in order to actually enforce it.
In Nebraska, you can’t get married if you have an STD.
Nebraska laws prohibit anyone with any kind of venereal disease from marrying. This law is in place to protect people from unknowingly marrying someone with an STD – however, it is difficult to enforce. When obtaining a marriage licence in Nebraska, you don’t have to present your medical records or history, just a picture ID and proof of age – no blood test is required.
In New Hampshire, you can’t pick up seaweed off the beach.
In New Hampshire, in an effort to stop illegal seaweed harvesting, lawmakers created a law that stated no one could pick up seaweed off of the beach at night. Students at Granite State college named it as “New Hampshire’s Dumbest Law” in a contest. Former state Rep. Max Abramson has called the law “unenforceable.”
In North Carolina, drunk bingo is banned.
In North Carolina, designated bingo halls are strictly forbidden from selling alcohol. According to North Carolina law 18B-308, it’s “unlawful to consume or sell alcohol in any room where a bingo game is being conducted.” According to Raleigh Mag, the last time that the law was officially updated was more than 30 years ago.
Though drinking in a venue, room, or hall where bingo is illegal, we can assume that this law would be difficult to enforce if the game occurred within a private residence.
In Pennsylvania, it’s illegal to feed your cat or dog less than once a day.
While it should be obvious that you need to feed your cat or dog at least once per day to keep them happy and healthy, this Pennsylvania law makes it so you have serious consequences if you don’t.
According to a law reported on Municode, “dogs and cats shall be fed at least once a day unless otherwise directed by a veterinarian. The food shall be free from contamination and shall be wholesome, palatable and of sufficient quantity and nutritive value to meet the normal daily requirements for the condition and size of the dog or cat.”
Dogs and cats also need to be given clean water three times per day, according to the law.
In Tennessee, you can’t share your Netflix password.
Let’s be honest – sharing Netflix, Hulu, or other streaming service passwords is commonplace among friends and family in today’s age. A law in Tennessee, however, is making it illegal to do just that.
According to a previous article by Business Insider, the law was created in the hope of curbing illegal music streaming and, surprisingly, the rise of illegal movie streaming from services like Netflix. It aims to target individuals who hack into thousands of Netflix accounts, obtain their passwords, and sell them in bulk for a profit.
Netflix’s policy on password sharing simply states that if anyone with access to your account violates their terms of service, you will be held responsible for their actions. They also limit viewing to four different devices at the same time, meaning you could only share or sell your password up to 3 times per account and all be able to watch simultaneously.
In conclusion, yes this law makes giving out your password illegal. However, we imagine it would be difficult to enforce giving out your password to one of two close friends or family members. Our advice: keep it on the down-low if you’re going to do it, and make sure you truly trust the people you allow access to your streaming services.
In Wisconsin, cheese has to be delicious, or at least “highly pleasing.”
According to a law in Wisconsin, both butter and cheese – which, to be fair, are hallmarks of this Midwestern state – have to be “highly pleasing” and free from any “undesirable flavours and odours.” Since the deliciousness and “pleasing” quality of cheese is highly subjective, we can only hope no one has been arrested for selling or producing lacklustre dairy products.
- Read more:
- 9 of the most outrageous liquor laws in the US
- The most bizarre driving laws around the world
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