The 50 Strangest Laws in America

These laws seem too weird to be true, but they're indeed on the books. Keep reading to learn what wacky law is enacted in your state.

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Head-Scratching Rules

Whether they’re holdovers from the days past that never got updated or mind-twisting restrictions written up after some random incident gone wrong, there are dozens of outdated and just-plain-strange laws still on the books in the United States. Here are a few of the wackiest laws in America—and be careful, some of them may apply to you!

Alabama: Don’t Play Cards on Sunday

In Alabama, you may not play cards on Sunday. For that matter, shooting, hunting, or racing are verboten, too. The prohibitions are part of a law that states people may not force others to work on Sunday. As a result most shops must be closed on Sunday—fortunately, newspaper stands and ice cream shops are among the exemptions.

Alaska: Don’t Push a Moose From an Airplane

In Alaska, moose and airplanes don’t mix. There’s one law on the books saying moose may not be viewed from an airplane, and another prohibiting you from pushing a live moose out of a moving airplane. Amateur aviators would do well to avoid this gentle beast!

Related: 7 Great Places to Bunk at America’s National Parks

Arizona: Let Your Cactus Be

In Arizona, be cautious when you landscape: If you’ve got a cactus in your yard, it may be illegal to cut it down! This law was created to protect the wild Saguaro cactus, an Arizonian treasure that some troublemakers enjoy shooting or cutting down.

Related: 9 Bright and Colorful Houseplants You Can’t Kill

Arkansas: Don’t Honk if You’re Hungry

In a rush for dinner in Little Rock, Arkansas? Just don’t get “hangry” and honk your horn—because that’s illegal if you’re parked near a shop that sells cold drinks or sandwiches after 9 p.m.

Related: 10 Things You Never Thought to Keep in Your Car

California: Dogs Can’t Go to School

Mary had her little lamb, but in Cathedral City, California, it’s not just against the rules to bring your pet dog to school—it’s against the law! Only dogs working for law enforcement or as service dogs are permitted on school property, unless the school is using them for teaching purposes.

Related: 10 House Hacks Every Pet Owner Needs to Know

Colorado: No Couches Outside

Sorry if you like to lounge outside: In Boulder, Colorado, it’s illegal to have a couch or other type of upholstered furniture not sold for outdoor use on your front porch, front yard, or side yard. While it might seem like a blow to outdoor living enthusiasts, this law was actually enacted to curb the practice of post-football-game burning of couches by University of Colorado fans.

Related: The Best Outdoor Furniture for Under $100

Connecticut: White String Lights Only

If you have Clark Griswold-style plans to decorate your house for the holidays, make sure you don’t live in Guilford, Connecticut! There, only white twinkle lights are allowed. Good taste, enforced!

Related: 15 Times Outdoor X-Mas Decorations Went Too Far

Delaware: Watch Your Children

Treats allowed, but no tricks! In Rehoboth Beach, you may not allow your children to “cause mischief” on city streets or sidewalks. Children under 14 are allowed to go door to door on Halloween—but only between 6 and 8 p.m.

Related: The 20 Best Towns for Trick-or-Treating

Florida: Doors Must Open Outward

In Florida, the doors of any public building—including theaters, opera halls, and other entertainment complexes—must open outward. While it may seems silly to specify the minutia of architectural details, it’s actually a safety mechanism to ensure people inside can escape in case of fire or other emergencies.

Related: 11 Common Causes of House Fires and How to Prevent Them

Georgia: No Carving Trees

You and your lover may want to carve your initials into a tree to symbolize your eternal bond—but in Columbus, Georgia, it’s illegal! Even in your own yard, but especially on public property, you may not deface a tree, fence or side of a building with writing, cutting or other artistic attempts.

Related: 10 of the Best Trees for Any Backyard

Hawaii: Curb the Outdoor Ads

In Hawaii, they like their scenery natural: Billboards and other forms of outdoor advertising are prohibited, with exceptions made for the likes of for-sale signs, directions to scenic outlooks, and any billboard already established on July 8, 1965.

Idaho: Be Careful with Porch Cleanup

Be careful when you clean your front porch: In Eagle, Idaho, it’s unlawful to sweep dirt or other debris from any building into a street, alley or sidewalk. Keep the neighborhood clean, people!

Related: 8 Budget Buys for Your Best-Ever Fall Porch

Illinois: Wait to Plant Grass

It’s not smart to plant new grass in the summer, but in Crystal Lake, Illinois, you might be breaking the law, too. There, no one can use city water to hydrate new sod planted in the summer months. Since grass is notoriously hard to grow in hot weather, there’s more than one good reason to wait until fall to lay new turf!

Related: 7 Things Your Lawn May Be Trying to Tell You

Indiana: You Gotta Get a Referral

Want to see a hypnotist? In Indiana, you can go ahead and schedule that appointment if you’re trying to quit smoking or lose weight—but if you want to visit them to work on an addiction like gambling, or a disorder like kleptomania or bedwetting, you’ll need a referral from your physician first.

Related: 10 Ways Your Furniture Can Make You Healthier

Iowa: Leave the Flowers Alone

In Iowa, they’re serious about their greenery: No trees or flowers may cut from city parks—or else! So think twice before you idly pluck a blossom on your morning walk.

Related: The Invincible Yard: 17 Ideas for Lazy Landscaping

Kansas: Mind Your Weeds

In Topeka, Kansas, weeding your yard is literally the law! A local statute mandates that you (or your tenant) must control any weeds found in your own yard, as well as along the street, sidewalk, alley, or other areas directly around your home.

Related: Wage War on Weeds with 7 Unbeatable Tools

Kentucky: Quit Dying Your Chicks

Pink bunnies and baby-blue chicks may be your little kid’s dream, but in Kentucky, they’re illegal! In fact, you’re not allowed to dye or sell any colored baby chicks, ducklings, or rabbits. It’s just as well that these creatures illegal—baby animals make terrible Easter gifts. Livestock animals can carry diseases and are often abandoned by families in parks or animal shelters after the novelty wears off. Stick to bunny-shaped candy and plush toys, if you want to give a memorable holiday gift.

Louisiana: No Fake Fighting Allowed

In Louisiana, don’t even think about throwing a fake punch! Anyone who participates in or is a party to a sham boxing or wrestling match will immediately lose his license. We presume that excludes letting your kid win an arm-wrestling match, though.

Related: 12 Unusual Ways to Reinvent Old Sports Gear

Maine: No Riding on the Sidewalk

Stick to the streets: In Biddeford, Maine, skating and biking are strictly prohibited on public sidewalks. We presume you get a break on the $10 fine if you’re still using training wheels.

Related—Weekend Projects: 5 Bike Racks to DIY on the Cheap

Maryland: Bite Your Tongue!

Road rage? Better curb it! In Rockville, Maryland, it’s illegal to curse, swear or use obscene language on any street, sidewalk or highway if you’re within earshot of a passerby.

Related: 7 Ways Your Paint Picks Affect Your Mood

Massachusetts: Watch Out on the Commons

In Massachusetts, they really care about their green common spaces. A few things you can’t do there: Wear heels over three inches high, have duels to the death on Sundays (unless the Governor is present), graze your livestock, carry a bathtub, or carry a shotgun (unless there’s an imminent threat of bears).

Related: 11 Ways You’re Accidentally Ruining Your Lawn

Michigan: Care for Your Old Radio

You might not be tuning in anymore, but stop before you toss your radio the trash! In Michigan, it’s illegal to willfully destroy an old radio. If it’s outlived its usefulness in your home, consider donating or recycling it.

Related: 9 Little Tricks to Make Trash Day Less of a Chore

Minnesota: Watering on an Odd Day?

Be careful when you water your lawn in Cottage Grove, Minnesota: In an effort to conserve water, residents of even-numbered addresses may only water their lawns on even-numbered days, and vice versa. Your only free pass: Everyone is free to water the grass on the 31st day of the month.

Related: 7 Remedies to Rescue a Dying Lawn

Mississippi: Burglar Bar Restrictions

You may be afraid of robbers, but be careful how you shore up your home. In Ridgeland, Mississippi, you can’t put burglar bars on the exteriors of doors or windows if they’ll be visible from the street or adjacent buildings.

Related: 10 Ways to Burglar-Proof Your Home for Under $100

Missouri: Yard Sale Stoppage

In University City, Missouri, you can’t set up a yard sale in an area that’s in front of the front building line of your residence. If you happen to have a suitable area for selling, note that you can’t have more that two sales per year.

Related: 10 Ways to Score Big at a Yard Sale

Montana: Pool Tables Must Be Visible from Street

Pool sharks: You can forget about throwing a private party in Kalispell, Montana. The law mandates that pool tables in billiards halls must be visible from the street in front of the hall without obstruction from screens, curtains, or furnishings. Too bad for anyone who’s self-conscious about their break shot.

Nebraska: Drive Carefully Near Mountains

When passing a mountain in Nebraska, you’re required by law to keep your vehicle as close to the right-hand side of the highway as possible. It sounds reasonable, except when you consider that there are no real mountains in Nebraska. The state’s highest point is Panorama Peak, not a mountain but rather a small rise in a stretch of landscape called the High Plains.

Nevada: Men Can't Buy a Round at Happy Hour

If you’re taking the company out for a team-building drink, skip Nyala. The law there states that a man can’t buy drinks for more than three people other than himself during the day. While it’s not clear if women are held to the same ordinance, better to be safe than sorry.

Related: 18 Small Towns with Strange Claims to Fame

New Hampshire: Don't Drink and Dance

The next time you’re listening to your favorite tunes at a restaurant in New Hampshire, stop yourself before you shimmy or shake to the rhythm: It’s forbidden to move in accompaniment to music in establishments that sell alcohol. 

New Jersey: Plant No Trees

Blairstown, New Jersey residents can plant shade trees along highways, streets, or alleys, so long as the trees don’t “obscure the air.” Just which tree species would fit the bill? It’s unclear, but whatever it is, it’s unlikely to provide much shade.

New Mexico: Don't Forget the Lyrics

Take a deep breath before you belt out either “The Star Spangled Banner” or the state anthem, “O Fair New Mexico.” It’s illegal in New Mexico to sing or play only a portion of these harmonies in a public setting—the entire composition must be completed. Should you run afoul of the authorities, you probably won’t do time: The crime is classified as a petty misdemeanor.

Related: State Pride: 50 Ways to Show You Love Where You Live

New York: Careful When Camping

If you’re planning a weekend camping trip in the wilds of Kendall, New York, you’ll need to get a special permit first. It’s illegal to camp on a non-approved campground there for more than 72 hours. Even with a permit, you can’t rough it on your sanctioned campsite for more than two weeks in a calendar year.

North Carolina: Call It a Night

If you’re planning a bingo game fundraiser at the local school or church, better keep it short. In North Carolina, it’s illegal for games to last longer than five hours. So give your stamping hand a rest and know when to call it a night.

Related: 8 New Things You Can Do with Old Board Games

North Dakota: Party Quietly

Devils Lake, North Dakota may have a mischievous name, but it’s surprisingly tame in its town rituals. Local law dictates that you can’t set off fireworks before July 1 or after July 5. And you can forget a midnight Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza: The city mandates there will be no fireworks set after 11 p.m. or before 8 a.m.

Ohio: Stay Off the Road

If your little one loves to scoot around in a mini coupe, they’d better stick to the driveway or the sidewalk. It’s illegal for a person to ride a toy car on city streets, except when crossing a street at a crosswalk. Aside from being illegal, it’s just common sense that your first-grader should watch out for traffic and always stay out of the street. Safety first!

Oklahoma: Get a Plant Instead

There are no eccentric cat ladies living in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. You can’t keep more than two adult cats or two dogs on any property you own or lease within town. The only exception to the rule is if you acquired your four-legged friends before August 10, 2010 and can provide documented proof that you are their owner.

Oregon: No Love on the Ice

Portland, Oregon is known as a cool and quirky place to live, but when it comes to wedding ceremonies, the law maintains it’s better not to be too eccentric: Weddings performed on ice rinks are strictly prohibited. The law may be a blessing in disguise for brides. Walking with a wedding dress train is hard enough without worrying about it freezing to the ice!

Related: The 10 Best Towns for a Romantic Getaway

Pennsylvania: Whistle While You Work—Not Outside

A modern reenactment of Gene Kelly’s famous scene in “Singin’ in the Rain” won’t be met with applause in Danville, Pennsylvania. Singing, along with whistling and hooting, is considered a prohibited noise on public streets. No matter how silky smooth your voice, the city will label your performance as a disturbance to your neighbors.

Rhode Island: No Sunday Football

Sunday night football is not the rage in Rhode Island that it is in the rest of the nation. According to state law, you have to obtain a license to play professional sports games on Sundays, which is odd because the Ocean State doesn’t even have a professional football team. 

South Carolina: Pinball Wizards 18+

In South Carolina, it’s illegal for minors to play on a pinball machine. Not that they’d necessarily want to, thanks to those handheld devices they’re always carrying around with them.

South Dakota: Don't Sleep Near the Cheese

If you want to catch a few winks in South Dakota, the local cheese factory is not the place to do it. For that matter, bakeries, dining rooms, and confectionaries are off limits as well. Food sanitary laws clearly state that you can’t sleep in these places—unless food there is kept in closed packages at all times. 

Tennessee: Sorry, Skunk Lovers

You can forget your dreams of domesticating the nation’s smelliest animal if you live in Tennessee. It’s illegal to import or own live skunks within state lines unless they came from a zoo or research institution. Whether the law is a bid to protect its residents or curtail the hijinks of pranksters is unclear, but Tennesseans can take heart that they won’t be seeing this animal in pet stores any time soon.

Related: How to Get Rid of Skunks

Texas: Don't Land on the Beach

If the captains of the fictional Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 in the TV series “Lost” had made their beach landing in Galveston, Texas instead of the South Pacific, they would have been in violation of the law. It’s illegal to take off or land a plane on the beach in the coastal Texas town. So if you’re seeking a landing pad with a scenic ocean view, you’ll have to look outside of Galveston’s 32 miles of gulf beaches.

Related: 15 Tiny Beach Bungalows for Your Next Vacation

Utah: No Snowball Fights

Provo, Utah looks like a winter wonderland in the cold season, but don’t let that white, powdery fluff tempt you to start a snowball fight. City law classifies snowballs, along with stones and sticks, as “missiles.” Throwing a snowball at a person or property, even if your intent is only to annoy the person, could put you on the hook for a misdemeanor charge.

Related: 10 Surprising Tips and Tricks for Dealing with Ice and Snow

Vermont: Line-Drying for Life

Clotheslines may have gone out of favor with the advent of modern dryers, but Vermont has no plans to outlaw the timeless tradition. In fact, the state has a law on the books that no law can be passed now or in the future to prevent the installation or use of clotheslines. If you’re a lifelong line-dryer, keep on pinning up those clothes with pride.

Related: 7 Smart Ways to Cycle Through Laundry Faster

Virginia: Close the Gate

In Frederick, Virginia, one moment of forgetfulness after lounging in the pool could set you back $2,500, the fine for leaving a pool gate open when you’re not swimming. Of course, an open pool gate would be a rare sight in Frederick in any case, since the same ordinance requires that all pool gates be self-closing and self-latching.

Washington: Save Sasquatch

The existence of Sasquatch may not have been proven, but the city of Skamania has long held that its residents should not have the right to bother Bigfoot if they do encounter it. In fact, the city passed the “Undiscovered Species Protection Act” in 1969 that made it a crime to harass or hurt the elusive primate. Should you harm a hair on Bigfoot’s head, you could face a fine of $500 to $1,000, jail time, or a combination of both.

Related: The 22 Weirdest Town Names Ever Put on a Map

West Virginia: Duelers Need Not Apply

Pugnacious West Virginians of old may have had to reconsider their political ambitions. State law forbids individuals who have sent or accepted a challenge to a duel from ever holding public office. Of course, since the custom of dueling fell out of favor more than 100 years ago, it’s probably safe to take this antiquated law off the books.

Wisconsin: No Fake Dairy

Wisconsinites love their dairy—a fact that’s reflected on the books. State law forbids restaurants from substituting margarine for butter unless a customer specifically asks for the substitution. Food purists can eat secure in the knowledge that the dollop of dairy on that stack of pancakes is bona fide butter.

Related: 15 Things Never to Put in the Fridge

Wyoming: Don't Buy from Drunks

The next time you seek out supplies for a DIY project, pay special attention to the sobriety status of the person from whom you’re buying. In Wyoming, it’s illegal to buy paper, rubber, rags, or metals from a person who seems to be drunk. Of course, if the vendor is merely intoxicated by the love of all things DIY, you should be on the right side of the law.

Related: 11 Things Never to Buy Secondhand