20 Hilariously Outdated Laws Throughout the US

A good law-abiding citizen knows that laws are generally in place to protect us and society, so when a law is passed it’s usually for good reason. The problem is that times change, and laws sometimes fail to change with them. In the USA, where a great deal of legislation is made at state level, there’s particularly impressive number of laws that are now so outdated that one can’t help but laugh and ponder what historic incident warranted the legislation in the first place.  Here’s just a small sample…

  1. In Alaska, it is illegal (not to mention extremely dumb) to wake a sleeping bear to take a photograph of them. The law does not specify whether it is legal to wake bears under other circumstances, however. As a general rule, we’d advise not disturbing a bear’s slumber.
  1. It is against the law for donkeys to sleep in bathtubs in Arizona, or for horses to do so in South Carolina. Whether an exception can be made for a bubble-bath loving mule is unclear.
  1. In the state of Arkansas one can, at least theoretically, be prosecuted for mispronouncing the word “Arkansas”. Perhaps locals got sick of hearing visitors saying “ar-Kansas” rather than the correct “Ar-kan-saw”. The deceptive spelling may seem illogical, but learning the origins of these state names will help you understand why we pronounce them differently.
  1. Meanwhile, in the state of Colorado, it is illegal to ride a horse whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol. There’s no mention of whether the horse must be sober, however.
  1. If you’re passing through Georgia then please be aware that you are committing a felony if you are carrying an ice cream cone in your back pocket on a Sunday. Don’t panic – it’s perfectly legal on weekdays.
  1. In Idaho one cannot give a woman the gift of a box of candy or chocolates if it weighs more than 50lbs. Perhaps the state thought it might curb growing obesity numbers.
  1. Indiana forbids attendance at any kind of public event or the use of public transport within four hours of eating onions or garlic. Even in the age of tic tacs and spearmint gum, this one seems fair enough.
  1. One-armed pianists in Iowa must, by law, play for free. We’re pretty sure this law is nullified through some more recent legislation protecting the disabled from discrimination. If anything, a one-armed pianist is twice as impressive!
  1. In North Carolina, no bingo game can last for longer than five hours. Those with a taste for strenuous bingo sessions could instead take their passion online, except that all internet bingo games are outlawed no matter their duration.
  1. It is illegal in Missouri to drive with an uncaged bear. One hates to think of the number of times this must have occurred before a law was finally passed.
  1. No camels may be ridden on the highway in the state of Nevada, which is a bummer if the desert animal is your preferred mode of transport.
  1. In Ohio there is a law against intoxicating a fish…even if it looks like it could do with a stiff drink.
  1. In one Oklahoma district, ironically named “Normal”, making ugly faces at a dog can land you in trouble with the law.
  1. It is forbidden to hunt in cemeteries in Oregon. It would make for a pretty bad sport, anyhow, unless you’re hunting the living dead.
  1. Rhode Island has a law that explicitly forbids biting the limb off another person. Break this law and you can expect to spend twenty years in prison. It does beg the question however…does this mean it’s legal everywhere else?
  1. In South Dakota one is a criminal if sleeping in a cheese factory. Being so close to all that cheese is sure to affect your dreams, anyway.
  1. The state of Utah permits marriage between cousins only if both parties are 65 years of age or older. Presumably this has something to do with eliminating the chance of offspring.
  1. Washington DC requires a man entering the city with criminal intent to stop at the city limits and telephone the police to notify them of his arrival. Basically, they want the criminal to do their job for them.
  1. The state of West Virginia forbids the practice of whistling underwater. Quite how this is enforced remains unclear.
  1. In Wyoming a photograph may not be taken of a rabbit between January and April – at least not without official permission.

How some of these laws ever made it onto the statute books remains a mystery, but they must have seemed like a good idea at the time. For instance, a bizarre law forbidding women from wearing shiny shoes in Cleveland, Ohio might after first appear totally nonsensical…if you delve into the reasoning, however, you’ll find that this law was enacted to prevent men from seeing up their skirt from the reflection on the shoes. Context is everything, even if the context is as dumb as driving with an uncaged bear in your car.

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