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Strangest American Laws Still on the Books

  • Nov 7, 2010
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There were so many strange laws that I may be forced to do a Part Two or one for women (there are a lot of ridiculous laws against women, you'll see a couple below). Some states I just couldn't limit it to JUST ONE and I think you'll agree!

There were a lot of laws against doing certain things on Sundays: selling Corn Flakes (Ohio), playing Dominoes (Texas), playing professional sports with the exception of ice hockey and ice polo without a license OR selling toothpaste and a toothbrush to the same person (Rhode Island), driving a black car (Colorado) or selling musical instruments (South Carolina).

Hope you enjoy reading the list as much as I've had putting it together! If you have any favorites that I left out, feel free to drop a comment or make up your own list ;p

It is legal to drive the wrong way down a one way street as long as a lantern is attached to the front of your car.

Flirtation between men and women on the streets of Little Rock may result in a 30-day jail term.

It is illegal to set a mousetrap without a hunting license.

It is illegal to cry on the witness stand in Los Angeles courts.

In Hermosa Beach, it's illegal to spill your Margarita on any street (cheers to my old stomping ground for not wanting to waste any tequila!)

In Riverside, one may not carry a lunch down the street between 11 and 1 o'clock. 

Sunshine is guaranteed (I wonder what we could get from the state for those gloomy days?)

A law created in 1925 makes it illegal to wiggle while dancing.

If an elephant is left tied to a parking meter, the parking fee has to be paid just as it would for a vehicle.

Any resident that does not own a boat can be fined.

In Pocatello, "It is prohibited for pedestrians and motorists to display frowns, grimaces, scowls, threatening and glowering looks, gloomy and depressed facial appearances, generally all of which reflect unfavorably upon the city's reputation."

It is illegal for a man to give his sweetheart a box of chocolates that weighs less then 50 pounds.

Bathing is prohibited during the winter.

In Waterville, it is illegal to blow one's nose in public.

It is still illegal for radio stations to play Randy Newman's song ‘Short People'.

In Baltimore, it is illegal to wash or scrub sinks, no matter how dirty they get.

In Boston, it is illegal to take a bath unless one has been ordered by a physician to do so.

An old ordinance declares goatees illegal unless you first pay a special license fee for the privilege of wearing one in public.

It is illegal to buy, sell or possess a squirt gun.

In bars, it is actually illegal to "walk around" with a beer in your hand. Oh, and it's also illegal to have drink specials- no Happy Hour for you, Bahstan Boys!

In Minneapolis, double-parkers can be put on a chain gang.

Red cars may not drive down Lake Street in Minneapolis.

In Minnetonka, if you drive a truck that leaves mud, dirt or sticky substances on any road, you will be considered a public nuisance who is harming the peace, safety, and general welfare of the town.

Double proxy marriages are allowed, meaning neither the bride nor the groom has to show up for the wedding, they can have someone stand in their place. You know...just in case they have something better to do that day.

In Hastings, the law says that hotel owners have to provide a clean white cotton nightshirt for each guest. Also no couples are allowed to have sex in the hotel unless they are wearing these nightshirts

If a child burps during a church service in Omaha, his or her parents may be arrested.

It is illegal for bar owners to sell beer unless they are simultaneously brewing a kettle of soup
New Hampshire

You can't tap your feet, nod your head, or in any way keep time to the music in a tavern, restaurant or cafe.
New Jersey

It is illegal to slurp soup.

You cannot pump your own gas.

In Newark, it is illegal to sell ice cream after 6pm, unless the customer has a note from his doctor.
New Mexico

In Carlsbad, the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary is banned.

In Raton, it is illegal for a woman to ride horseback down a public street with a kimono on.
New York

A fine of $25 can be levied for flirting. This old law specifically prohibits men from turning around on any city street and looking "at a woman in that way." A second conviction for a crime of this magnitude calls for the violating male to be forced to wear a "pair of horse-blinders" wherever and whenever he goes outside for a stroll.

In NYC, "it is disorderly conduct for one man to greet another on the street by placing the end of his thumb against the tip of his nose and wiggling the extended fingers of that hand."

No one can be arrested on Sunday or the 4th of July.

In Marion, you can't eat a donut and walk backwards down a city street.

In Youngstown, it is illegal to run out of gas.

Dogs must have a permit signed by the mayor in order to congregate in groups of three or more on private property.

You can't sleep on a refrigerator outdoors.

No baseball team can hit the ball over the fence or out of a ballpark.

It is illegal to throw pickle juice on a trolley.

"Any motorist who sights a team of horses coming toward him must pull well off the road, cover his car with a blanket or canvas that blends with the countryside, and let the horses pass. If the horses appear skittish, the motorist must take his car apart piece by piece, and hide it under the nearest bushes."
South Carolina

No horses are allowed into Fountain Inn unless they are wearing pants.

One must be 18 years old to play a pinball machine.

In Charleston, all carriage horses must wear diapers

In Memphis restaurants, it is illegal to give any pie to fellow diners. It is also illegal to take unfinished pie home. All pie must be eaten on the premises.

In Memphis, it is illegal for a woman to drive by herself; "a man must walk or run in front of the vehicle, waving a red flag in order to warn approaching pedestrians and motorists."

A recently passed anti-crime law requires criminals to give their victims 24 hours notice, either orally or in writing, and to explain the nature of the crime to be committed.

The entire Encyclopedia Britannica is banned in Texas because it contains a formula for making beer at home

Chickens cannot lay eggs before 8:00 a.m., and must be done before 4:00 p.m.

In Richmond, it is illegal to flip a coin in any eating establishment
to determine who buys a cup of coffee


It is illegal to pretend that one's parents are rich.

All lollipops are banned.

A law to reduce crime states: "It is mandatory for a motorist with criminal intentions to stop at the city limits and telephone the chief of police as he is entering the town."

What did you think of this list?

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November 18, 2010
What, nothing from Arizona. I have one, ain Arizona it was illegal for non-US citizen to be in this country without registering first. That was so stupid that the federal government sued Arizona to stop it. Elections have consequences.
November 19, 2010
I originally had Arizona in there and had to edit the list down :( But, not to worry- I'll be making a Part Two soon! Until then, here's one for you- if you create a misdemeanor wearing a red mask, it's an automatic felony! Hope that tides you over ;p
November 17, 2010
Lollipops are illegal in WA?!
November 17, 2010
Yep! Isn't that crazy? Luckily for the kids there, this law isn't enacted!
November 13, 2010
You missed Michigan's old law that states a wife's hair legally belongs to her husband, so she cannot obtain a hair cut or get a new style without first obtaining permission from him. =P
November 15, 2010
There are so many against women that I'm thinking of dong one for us gals. I was a little shocked at that one, though! Could you imagine if that was put into practice? That and the Massachusetts one with the red flag?
November 12, 2010
Hah, omg, guaranteed sunshine. That's genius.
November 12, 2010
I wish it were true!
November 11, 2010
Whoever guaranteed sunshine in CA has clearly never been to San Francisco.
November 12, 2010
I know! Right? I'm actually really interested to see what we could get from taking them up on that law ;p
November 09, 2010
Now you need to do a list of dictators with the best sense of humor. LOL! This is hilarious and equally scary.
November 11, 2010
That would be a good one!
November 11, 2010
Do you know what state it was in the South that made it illegal to chew bubblegum?
November 12, 2010
I couldn't find it. I know that you can't leave gum in public places in Cleveland, Ohio....if that helps?
November 18, 2010
What, nothing from Arizona. I have one, in Arizona it was illegal for non-US citizen to be in this country without registering first. That was so stupid that the federal government sued Arizona to stop it. Elections have consequences.
November 09, 2010
November 09, 2010
Awesome List! Not going to Indiana in the winter!
November 09, 2010
Thanks...no kidding or Rhode Island on Sundays!
November 08, 2010
wow. I cannot believe these laws actually passed. I remember seeing a show on TV and it is actually required for a woman to have a license to be able to wear heels--seems like someone won a huge lawsuit because her heels got caught in one of those sidewalk steel grills. I couldn't remember what state it was...Nice list, Sam!!
November 09, 2010
Oh, yes Will...I'll be making one for women because there were SO many for us gals ;p
November 08, 2010
I didn't realize that I had broken so many laws. Especially the Florida one :x Great list!
November 09, 2010
LOL or the Massachusetts one ;p
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