These Are Some of the Craziest Laws in the United States, as Well as Some that Were Totally Made Up
These Are Some of the Craziest Laws in the United States, as Well as Some that Were Totally Made Up

These Are Some of the Craziest Laws in the United States, as Well as Some that Were Totally Made Up

Larry Holzwarth - February 17, 2019

These Are Some of the Craziest Laws in the United States, as Well as Some that Were Totally Made Up
A French print depicts the consequences of eating a dinner of horsemeat. Wikimedia

17. Arizona allows the selling of horse meat in restaurants if the customer is warned

A law which no doubt goes back to the days of the Earps in Tombstone allows restaurants to sell horse meat, but only if the fact that it is horsemeat is noted clearly on the menu, printed in green ink. Why diners would opt for the horsemeat is anybody’s guess. Another law cited but provably false in Arizona elevates the commission of a misdemeanor into a felony of the committer of the crime is wearing a red ski mask at the time. Still another law prohibits six adult women from living in the same house at the same time and is likely in place as part of the crackdown on brothels as the state tamed itself from its more open wild west days. Other states have similar laws, though the number of women allowed varies.

Stealing soap in Arizona is often reported as being punished, in part, with a law which requires the thief to use up the entire bar. The law is reported in some media as being active in Mohave County. As with many of the strange laws so often reported there is little to verify them other than the circular reporting which drives many urban legends and myths. Mohave County doesn’t list it. Another often reported Arizona law, this one a city law in Tucson, Arizona, prohibits women from wearing pants within city limits. The existence of that law has been completely debunked by the state historian, yet it continues to appear on websites and in magazine articles as if it wer factually correct.

These Are Some of the Craziest Laws in the United States, as Well as Some that Were Totally Made Up
Contrary to what many claim, the use of corn as bait when fishing in Oregon is legal. Wikimedia

18. Some strange Oregon laws, and the truth behind them

Numerous sites which list purported strange laws claim that in Oregon it is illegal to use corn as bait when fishing. That statement is false. It is legal to use corn as bait, but a fisherman cannot empty a can of corn, or corn in some other form, over the side of his boat or into the water if bank fishing, in the form of chum to attract fish. Another reported law in Oregon requires anyone juggling in Hood River to have a license. That one is true, more or less, the city doesn’t enforce the regulation but it remains on the books. Another Oregon community, Salem, bans slingshots and bean shooters from its streets and public places, such as parks.

In Sheridan, Oregon, an ordinance literally bans spitting on the sidewalk, a term often used as a reference to the least possible crime a person can be charged with. It includes streets, alleys, public buildings, and parks unless there are vessels designed as receptacles for the purpose of being used by those who expectorate. Yamhill, Oregon bans fortune tellers, seers, astrologers, tarot readers, and the rest of what the community refers to as the occult arts. Throughout the state riding in the back of a pickup truck is illegal except under special circumstances, as is riding on the outside of an automobile, as on the hood or fenders.

These Are Some of the Craziest Laws in the United States, as Well as Some that Were Totally Made Up
A railroad advertising card featuring Lakeside Bluffs in Arkansas (second s silent). Wikimedia

19. Some so-called strange laws which simply don’t exist

One of the popular dumb laws cited by many of the websites and magazine articles which specialize in disseminating them regards a law in Arkansas which makes it illegal to pronounce the state’s name incorrectly by sounding the final letter. According to the story, the legislature made it illegal to pronounce the state’s name in any manner other than Ar’-kan-saw. The claim that those who mispronounce the name is subject to fines or even jail time is false, has always been false and is linked to an act of the legislature in 1881, where after years of dispute they adopted the above pronunciation as official. However, they attached no penalty for mispronunciation.

Another law which is claimed to be on the books in Arkansas is one which bans flirtation between men and women, with some attributing it to the state generically and others citing that it is in effect in Little Rock. It too is mostly false. Little Rock does have a statute that makes certain gestures and actions between men and women illegal, and it includes the word flirt, but it was written with the intent of preventing solicitation for the purpose of prostitution, “along any of the sidewalks, streets, or public ways of the City of Little Rock” and is no longer in effect.

These Are Some of the Craziest Laws in the United States, as Well as Some that Were Totally Made Up
In Tennessee, deer killed in traffic are allowed to be taken home and consumed, as are bear. NASA

20. Most so-called strange laws aren’t laws at all

The vast majority of the reported strange or archaic laws said to be still in effect in the American states are urban myths, misinterpretations, or simply made up. Some are deliberate distortions of existing laws, as in the Massachusetts law which bans transporting wild animals in the back of vehicles. Since a gorilla is a wild animal and the law bans their transportation, some imaginative soul decided that Massachusetts had a law banning gorillas from the back seat and an urban legend was born. It could just as easily have been a wolf, or a bear, or some other animal which was at one time indigenous to the region, which would have led to yet another strange law which in reality doesn’t exist.

One strange law that does exist comes from the State of Tennessee and addresses the disposal of what is commonly called roadkill; dead animals in or alongside the roadways of the state. If the animal is a game animal a driver happening upon it (the law doesn’t say he has to be the one which struck the animal) is allowed to “possess it for your personal use and consumption”. If the animal happens to be a deer the law specifies whoever takes it must notify the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) within 24 hours, providing them the possessor’s name and address. Bears are also available to the finder, but with a permit issued from the TWRA. Good dining.


Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“Strange Arizona Laws You Should Know”. ENJURIS. Robert E. Wisniewski. Online

“Weird laws in Massachusetts”. staff. June 18, 2015. Online

“The Myth of the Connecticut Pickle Law”. Debra Pond, Connecticut State Library Law Reference Librarian. August 2013

“Does Florida have a weird law about elephants and parking meters?” Ryan Harper, News 13 Florida. April 13, 2015. Online

“Do you speak American?” Dennis Baron, PBS Online.

“Animal Prisoner at the Bar”. Joseph P. McNamara, Notre Dame Law Review. 1927

“Virginia city threatens trick-or-treaters over the age of 12 with jail time to thwart Halloween mischief”. Danielle Garrand, CBS News. October 9, 2018. Online

“Weird traffic laws from each of the 50 US states”. Chris Riley, Autowise. September 28, 2018

“Strange North Carolina Laws That Will Have You Scratching Your Head”. Kelly & West News, Kelly & West Attorneys. Online

“Wow, these laws are stupid”. Kelly Bayliss, NBC 10, Philadelphia. July 17, 2009. Online

“Weird Laws in Nevada”. Ovation/Blog, Las Vegas Living. Online

“Strange Wisconsin Laws”. Ashley Steinbrinck, July 7, 2014. Online

“Sunday, Sabbath, and the Weekend”. Edward O’Flaherty, Rodney L. Peterson, Timothy A. Norton. 2010

“Visitor Arrested for Eating Chicken With a Fork”. Jessica Jordan, Gainesville Times. July 20, 2009

“25 obscure laws on the books in Oregon: Are you breaking the rules?” Michael Lloyd, The Oregonian. March 12, 2016

“Strange laws in Arkansas”. Amanda Galiano, May 17, 2017

“50 Craziest State Laws From Around the United States” KARA LADD. Jun 18, 2020.

“Driving You Crazy: Can you really not drive a black car on Sunday in Denver?”. By Jayson Luber, Denver Channel, Jul 28, 2017

“Bizarre traffic laws from around the world: Don’t drive with a blindfold, check for children under the car!”, by FE Online, Financial Express, Jul 17, 2017

“It’s illegal to buy, sell or dye baby chicks, ducks, rabbits”, by Michelle Ganley, KSAT, April 16, 2019

“Don’t eat that frog: Wacky laws pose challenge for states cleaning up the books”, By Adam Shaw, Fox News, July 16, 2015

“Here’s Why We Pronounce ‘Kansas’ And ‘Arkansas’ Differently”, by Christina Sterbenz, Business Insider, Feb 8, 2014