50 Things You Won’t Believe Are Banned in the U.S.
From bear wrestling to shooting fish in a barrel, find out what odd things lawmakers around the country have banned in their states for reasons we cannot explain.
Alabama: No bear wrestling
Did you know that in Mobile, Alabama, silly string is illegal (as is confetti)? But no matter what city or town you’re in Alabama, it’s unlawful to promote or otherwise be involved with bear wrestling matches. That includes selling tickets to bear wrestling matches and/or training a bear to be a bear wrestler. Funny that Alabama’s lawmakers thought it important to get this law on the books, when here we were thinking that when we see a bear, all we want to do is run in the other direction.
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Alaska: You can’t carry a bow and arrow
In the state of Alaska, it’s illegal to enter a bar if you’re already intoxicated. That actually makes some bit of sense. Now, if only we could make sense of why in the municipality of Nome, Alaska, it’s illegal to carry a bow and arrow even though bow and arrow hunting is permitted in the state of Alaska.
Arizona: No camel hunting
In Arizona, the hunting of camels is prohibited. While this seems like a nonsensical law—camels aren’t exactly native to Arizona—there’s actually a logical reason for it. Pre-Civil War, the U.S. Army experimented with camels in the Arizona desert, before eventually giving up the project. The remaining camels were set free and are still protected to this day.
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Arkansas: No honking your horn in front of a sandwich shop
In Little Rock, Arkansas, after 9 p.m. it’s illegal to honk your horn in front of a sandwich shop. So, please be patient at the drive-through. Although it’s on the books as the official pronunciation, no one has ever been prosecuted for mispronouncing it.
California: You can’t wear a mask or other disguise
If you live in Walnut City, California, you should rethink your Halloween costume, especially if it involves a mask or other disguise—or at least get permission from the sheriff. Or you could consider trick-or-treating someplace else such as San Francisco.
Colorado: No throwing missiles at cars
Within the city limits of Alamosa, Colorado, it is illegal to throw missiles at cars. While you would hope that your car is protected from missiles no matter where you are, this Colorado city has made sure to articulate the rule.
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Connecticut: Kissing on Sundays
If you live in Hartford, Connecticut, you might want to avoid Sunday night dates with your spouse—it’s illegal for a man to kiss his wife on Sundays. The origin of this law is unknown but it still exists, though not really enforced.
Delaware: You can’t trick-or-treat on a Sunday
In Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, when October 31 falls on a Sunday, you’re not allowed to trick-or-treat, Halloween or not. Instead, it’s rescheduled for the day before.
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Florida: No Internet cafés
In 2013, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law House Bill 155, which was aimed at cracking down on illegal gambling in Internet cafés. But the law had the effect of banning Internet cafés in general (and resulted in an immediate shutdown of 1,000 Internet cafés). The law is still in effect, although these establishments keep popping up everywhere, in most cases, claiming they aren’t engaging in the gambling the law was intended to prohibit.
Georgia: You can’t buy sex toys
It’s illegal to buy sex toys in Sandy Springs, Georgia. An ordinance on the books specifically provides that “any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs is obscene material” and therefore prohibited (unless the buyer has a bona fide medical, scientific, educational, legislative, judicial, or law enforcement purpose). And this law gets enforced, although its constitutionality is currently being challenged in court. (In 2008, a similar law in Texas was overturned.)
Hawaii: You can’t text and walk
A ban on pedestrians looking at mobile phones or texting while crossing the street took effect in Honolulu, Hawaii, earlier this year. Fines start at $15 and go as high as $99 for multiple violations. Laugh all you want, but texting and walking cause 11,000 injuries per year, and could soon be banned in other states.
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Idaho: You can’t be in the same house as someone who is smoking pot
Marijuana use is still illegal in most states, but in Idaho, you can’t even be in the same house as someone who’s indulging. If you’re caught on the premises where marijuana is being used, you can be fined up to $300 and sentenced to up to 90 days in jail (or both).
Illinois: You can’t wear saggy pants
In Collinsville, Illinois, saggy pants have been banned since 2011. Under the law, pants must be “secured at the waist to prevent the pants from falling more than three inches below the hips… causing exposure to the person or the person’s undergarments.” The fine is $100 plus community service for the first offense, and $300 plus community service for subsequent offenses.
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Indiana: You can’t shoot fish in a barrel
If something is easy, you might say it’s like “shooting fish in a barrel,” but then clearly, you haven’t been fishing in Indiana, where shooting fish is illegal, as is catching them with your bare hands.
Iowa: You can’t flash or streak naked
In Iowa, a person who exposes his or her “genitals or pubes” to another commits a serious misdemeanour, if he does so to arouse the sexual desires of himself/herself or the viewer and knows or should know the act is offensive to the viewer.” The exception is if the viewer is the person’s spouse.
Kansas: No toy guns for minors
Kansas has several wacky laws, but our pick comes from Kansas City, Kansas. Minors are not allowed to purchase cap pistols. Seems pretty normal compared to some of the others on this list, until you learn that in Kansas City, minors are allowed to buy shotguns freely.
Kentucky: No selling Easter bunnies
In Kentucky, it’s illegal to sell baby bunnies whose fur has been dyed. In fact, it’s illegal to even dye the bunnies in the first place. And for that matter, the law applies to baby chicks, ducklings, and other birds. If you get caught doing so, you’re looking at a fine of up to $500.
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Louisiana: No vampires
If you took True Blood or Interview with a Vampire a little too literally and have a taste for human blood (or, for that matter, animal blood, or animal waste), then you’d best satisfy your cravings in a state that is not Louisiana. Louisiana’s legislature, finding it “necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, morals, safety, and welfare and for the support of state government and its existing public institutions,” has banned the ingestion of human or animal blood or human or animal waste. Break this law, and you’re looking at five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
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Maine: No rollerskating on the sidewalk
In Biddeford, Maine, it’s illegal to roller-skate or ride your bike on the sidewalk, and in Augusta, don’t even think about letting your children set up a lemonade stand without clearing it first with the chief of police.
Maryland: No potty mouths at the playground
Doesn’t matter how frustrated you get when you can’t get your six-year-old son to share his sandbox toys with his four-year-old brother. Doesn’t matter if you stub your toe. Whatever you do, just don’t use profanity at the playground in Cumberland, because that stuff is banned.
Massachusetts: You can’t buy a Christmas tree that’s too big for your car
In Sudbury, Massachusetts, a town police officer pulled a car over for having a tree that was too big for it. “Sudbury PD would like to remind you to transport your Holiday trees responsibly,” the police posted on Facebook in regards to the incident.
Michigan: No peeing in public
A moment of childish bad judgment can create a lifetime of unfortunate consequences throughout a number of Michigan municipalities. We’re talking about public urination here, and laugh all you want, but it’s still a serious offense because not only can you be forced to pay a fine of up to $500, and face up to 90 days in jail, but you may be required to register as a sex offender.
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Minnesota: You can’t wear your hat in the theatre
If you go to a movie theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota, it doesn’t matter how cold you are, it’s still illegal to wear a hat inside. Specifically, the law provides that “no person, during the performance of the program in a theatre, auditorium, or place of amusement, shall wear any headgear” (or otherwise conduct himself in a manner which interferes unreasonably with the view or enjoyment of another person of the stage or screen or place of activity).
Mississippi: No teaching about polygamy
The state of Mississippi bans the teaching of “the doctrines, principles, or tenets, or any of them, of polygamy.” If you’re convicted of this, or of even trying to do this, you could face imprisonment up to six months (and no less than one month).
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Missouri: No hitching a ride on a moving vehicle
In Columbia, Missouri, it is illegal for anyone who is riding a bicycle or roller skates to attach himself to any vehicle upon a roadway.
Montana: No giving away rats as gifts
In the city of Billings, Montana, you can buy, sell, and give away rats as long as they’re to be used as food for snakes or birds of prey (or both). For any other purpose, it’s illegal. If you’re not sure whether your pet bird is a “bird of prey,” you might want to pay a visit to Idaho’s Birds of Prey Conservation Area (in Snake River, Idaho).
Nebraska: You can’t get married if you have an STD
Under the laws of the State of Nebraska, “no person who is afflicted with a venereal disease” is allowed to marry. That being said, the applicable Nebraska case law holds that a marriage where one person is afflicted is not void, but is voidable.
Nevada: You can’t lie down on the sidewalk
Don’t even think about lying down on the sidewalk in Reno, Nevada, because it’s 100 per cent banned—except in the case of an actual emergency.
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New Hampshire: No making off with seaweed
When in New Hampshire, be sure to leave the seaweed where you find it because carrying away seaweed from the seashore is illegal.
New Jersey: You can’t text and walk
As in Hawaii, one municipality in New Jersey, Fort Lee, a municipality in New Jersey, banned texting while walking. Violations come with an $85 ticket.
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New Mexico: No voting for idiots
In the state of New Mexico, you can’t vote if you’re an idiot. Specifically, the New Mexico State Constitution provides: “Every U.S. citizen who has resided in New Mexico 12 months, in the county 90 days… shall be qualified to vote at all elections for public officers,” with the exception of “idiots,” as well as “insane persons and persons convicted of a felonious or infamous crime.”
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New York: No drinking before the brunch hour
In New York City, it’s illegal for a restaurant to serve an alcoholic beverage before 10 a.m. on Sunday. For those who enjoy a really early brunch, that rules out mimosas. At least the ban doesn’t extend until noon anymore, as it did until only recently.
North Carolina: No crimes against nature
North Carolina prohibits all crimes against nature. What are “crimes against nature” you might ask? Well, for starters, it can include consensual sex between two people. In addition, sex outside of marriage is illegal in North Carolina (assuming it’s “lewd and lascivious”).
North Dakota: No sex with birds
It’s illegal in North Dakota to perform a “deviate sexual act” with an intent to be gratified. Violating this law comes with a hefty penalty: up to one year in prison, a fine of $2,000, or both. Luckily (for some), North Dakota defines “deviate sexual act” narrowly to mean “sexual contact with an animal, bird, or dead person.”
Oklahoma: No horse-tripping
In the state of Oklahoma, it’s illegal to engage in “horse-tripping”. According to SHARK (Showing Animals Respect and Kindness), “horse-tripping is an incredibly cruel event which involves the roping of a horse’s feet, forcing them to trip and fall.” So, even though this event seems somewhat obscure, we applaud you, Oklahoma, for your efforts to make life better for horses.
Oregon: No peeing in a bottle
Thinking about taking a road trip in Oregon? Well, you’d better have some pretty clear ideas of where you’ll be making pit stops because Oregon happens to be very particular about the way they want residents and visitors to dispose of their personal waste—by which we mean urine and fecal matter. Specifically, what you’re not allowed to do in the state of Oregon is disposing of a container of urine or other human waste on or beside the highway.
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Pennsylvania: No cell phones in the courtroom
In Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, they’re cracking down hard on distractions in the courthouse. Specifically, all cell phones and all audio-recording devices are banned in several courthouses throughout the county. That goes for the press, as well, which one might wonder, is a blow against freedom of the press?
Rhode Island: No biting off someone’s finger
Rhode Island prohibits the biting off of the “limb or member” of another person. It also prohibits putting an eye out and slitting the nose, ear or lip of another person. In all cases, the punishment is up to 20 years in prison. Did you know there’s only one state whose letters are all on one row of a keyboard?
South Carolina: No working on Sunday
South Carolina law provides that “on the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday,” it’s illegal to “engage in worldly work, labour, business” or the sale of consumer goods or to employ others to do so. The one exception is made in Charleston County, where those who observe the Sabbath on the “seventh day of the week” (i.e., Saturday) may work on Sundays, as long as they refrain on Saturday. But don’t worry, the law, which dates back to the 1800s, is rarely enforced, so you can still grocery shop, eat out, fly out of town, or take an emergency trip to the hospital if need be.
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South Dakota: No causing static
No one likes static cling, but in South Dakota, the anti-static sentiment can only be described as “epic.” In fact, it’s against the law to cause static in the municipality of Huron, South Dakota. It’s important to note that the sort of static this law refers to is not the kind that makes your hair stand on end, but the kind that makes crackling noises and “snow” on your television.
Tennessee: No sharing your Netflix password
In Tennessee, you can’t share your Netflix password (or any other password for a paid subscription streaming service). In 2011, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed a bill into law to this effect. “The law is mainly targeted at hackers who steal and then sell log-in information in bulk. But this means it will also be crime for everyday consumers to share user log-in information with friends so they can access media downloads for free.” Getting caught could mean up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
Texas: No sex between people of the same gender
The Texas penal code specifically prohibits what it calls “deviate sexual intercourse” between people of the same gender. But, while this law is still on the books, it’s unenforceable thanks to the 2003 Supreme Court decision in Lawrence V. Texas, which deemed it unconstitutional.
Utah: No booze for immigrants
In a state that already has many arcane alcohol-related laws on the books, Governor Gary Herbert recently upped the ante by signing into law House Bill 155, which prohibits recent immigrants (those who have been here for less than two years) from driving with even a drop of alcohol in the blood. House Bill 155 also lowers the legal limit on alcohol consumption to a blood alcohol content of .05.
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Vermont: You can’t have apple pie without ice cream
It’s not exactly a ban, but it’s kind of crazy nevertheless: Since 1999, in Vermont, when serving apple pie, the official state pie, “a good faith effort” is required to be made to also serve a glass of cold milk, a slice of cheddar cheese weighing a minimum of 1/2 ounce, or a large scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Virginia: You can’t go trick-or-treating if you’re older than 12
If you’re over the age of 12 in Chesapeake, Virginia, you’re not allowed to go trick-or-treating on Halloween or risk a fine of up to $100.00, a jail stay of up to six months, or both. The same law is on the books in Newport News, Virginia.
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Washington: You, with a cold
If you’ve got a cold or another contagious disease, don’t walk around in public in the state of Washington, where “every person who shall willfully expose himself or herself to another… in any public place or thoroughfare, except upon his or her or its necessary removal in a manner not dangerous to the public health… shall be guilty of a misdemeanour.”
West Virginia: No dueling if you’re planning on running for office
One thing you can be sure of in West Virginia is that anyone who holds public office has never been involved in a duel. Specifically, anyone who in West Virginia or anywhere else, fights a duel with deadly weapons or sends or accepts a challenge to do so, is forever banned from “holding any office of honour, trust or profit” in West Virginia.
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Wisconsin: No spitting on the sidewalk
In Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, it’s illegal to spit on the sidewalk. Sounds like common sense to us!
Wyoming: No entering a mine when you’re drunk
In Wyoming, it’s illegal to enter a mine while intoxicated. Failure to heed this law is a misdemeanor but carries with it a fine of up to $500, and possible imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year. Something else you shouldn’t do while drunk in Wyoming? Selling metals, rubber, rags, paper, and other stuff because your purchaser will be violating the law.
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