These odd laws in America address banned tattoos, pink butter, poker playing and more
Here’s a quick look at some of the oddest laws that have been enacted in America — many of which are still enforced now while others long since have been repealed.
Fox News Digital issued part one of the oddest laws in America earlier this week. Now, read on for part two of our alphabetical list of America’s most bizarre laws.
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These laws may not be exclusive to one state.
After diving in, take a look back at part one on Fox News Lifestyle — for laws in Alabama through Missouri — then stay tuned for the complete list coming up in part three.
Montana: You can’t ‘drive’ animals on a railroad track
A livestock code in the Montana State legislature prohibits the “unlawful transporting or driving of livestock” upon a railroad track with the “intent to injure the corporation or persons owning the railroad.”
The livestock code (title 81, chapter 5) says the unlawful act is punishable with a monetary fine of up to $50,000 or imprisonment in a state prison for up to five years or both.
The offender is also “liable for all injury or damage occasioned by reason of such act,” including animal injury or death.
Nebraska: You cannot marry if you have an STD
A marriage qualification code in the Nebraska State legislature prohibits residents with sexually transmitted diseases from marrying in the Cornhusker State.
“No person who is afflicted with a venereal disease shall marry in this state,” Nebraska’s Revised Statute Chapter 42-102 states, as of publication time.
Legislative Bill 882 (AKA LB745) attempted to revise the code to remove the marriage disqualification and instead tried to make “undisclosed [STDs] at the time of marriage” a qualifier for annulment — but the bill hasn’t been passed.
Nevada: Steer clear of the Powerball
Section 24 of the Constitution of the State of Nevada says that “no lottery may be authorized …nor may lottery tickets be sold” by state and political subdivisions in the Battle Born State.
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The constitution does give the Nevada legislature power to authorize and regulate lotteries (raffle or drawing) for organizations that are involved in charitable or not-for-profit activities.
“All proceeds of the lottery, less expenses directly related to the operation of the lottery, must be used only to benefit charitable or nonprofit activities in this State,” Nevada’s constitution says.
“A charitable or nonprofit organization shall not employ or otherwise engage any person to organize or operate its lottery for compensation.”
New Hampshire: Beware the collection of seaweed
New Hampshire Fish and Game Laws Title XVIII have a list of “general provisions” about seaweed collection, which are described in Section 207:48 to 207:54.
The seven sections prohibit activities such as nighttime seaweed and rockweed collecting from seashores “below high-water mark,” seaweed collecting from any salt marsh or flat “without leave of the owner,” piling seaweed below the high-water mark for the purpose of hauling away, selling seaweed outside the state — and uprooting and cutting live rockweed or sea moss from rocks, banks or shores.
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New Jersey: You can’t sell a car on Sunday
Section 2C:33-26 of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice prohibits people and places of business from “buying, selling, or exchanging motor vehicles” on Sunday.
Violating the code is considered a “disorderly persons offense.”
Violation punishments escalate with each subsequent offense and can include monetary fines between $100 and $750, up to six months of imprisonment and suspension or revocation of a car dealership license.
An exemption exists for motorcycle sales (unless prohibited by county).
New Jersey is one of a number of other states that restrict or ban car sales on Sundays.
New Mexico: You can’t dance while wearing a sombrero
It’s reportedly illegal to dance in a sombrero in New Mexico, according to a report published by Tucker, Yoder & Associates, a law firm based in Farmington, New Mexico.
“There’s nothing illegal about wearing a sombrero in New Mexico, but start dancing in it and you’re breaking the law,” the law firm wrote in September 2021 in its roundup of 10 Odd New Mexico Laws.
“It might not seem like dancing in a sombrero would cause any reason to be banned, but the state lawmakers certainly disagreed,” Tucker, Yoder & Associates also said.
New York: Be aware that wearing face masks in groups was once banned
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was illegal for groups of people to wear masks in public spaces throughout the state of New York.
The law was repealed in May 2020 with N.Y. Penal Law 240.35(4), which ended the “nearly two-century-old statute” that made group mask wearing a “criminal violation,” according to the Office of the New York State Attorney General.
North Carolina: You cannot steal waste kitchen grease
The North Carolina General Assembly website has a criminal law outlined in chapter 14 of the North Carolina General Statutes (Section 14-79.2) that states it’s unlawful to steal waste kitchen grease.
It’s illegal to “take and carry away, or aid in taking or carrying away” waste kitchen grease and the containers that hold the grease when there are labels that state “unauthorized removal is prohibited without written consent of the owner of the container.”
Adding a fraudulent ownership label on a waste kitchen grease container and intentional contamination is also against the law.
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Violators of North Carolina’s waste kitchen grease law can be subject to a Class 1 misdemeanor or Class H felony, depending on the monetary value of the stolen grease and/or grease container.
North Dakota: Watch your poker playing
The North Dakota Legislative Branch’s Administrative Code on Games of Chance (Section 99-01.3-09-01) says licensed organizations can conduct a maximum of two for-profit poker events in a fiscal year, and each poker event is limited to a 72-hour period.
Organizations are allowed to run multiple poker tournaments “at each of its licensed sites” during this period.
“For a tournament, an organization shall charge each player an entry fee,” the code states.
“For each tournament conducted, the total fees cannot exceed three hundred dollars per player, which includes the buy-in or entry fee, plus rebuys, add-ons, and bounties. The total fees collected are considered gross proceeds.”
Ohio: Arrests cannot be made on Sundays or on July 4
Section 2331.12 of the Ohio Revised Code specifies the days that arrests cannot be made, which is available for viewing on the state’s Legislative Service Commission website.
“No person shall be arrested during a sitting of the Senate or House of Representatives, within the hall where such session is being held, or in any court of justice, during the sitting of such court, or on Sunday, or on the fourth day of July,” the code states.
Oklahoma: Know that tattoos were banned until 2006
The state of Oklahoma banned tattooing in 1963 — and lifted the ban in 2006 with Gov. Brad Henry’s signing of Senate Bill 806, according to a press release issued by the Oklahoma Senate.
The legislative decision granted the Oklahoma Department of Health regulation authority over commercial tattooing.
“I’ve said all along, this is a public health issue,” said State Sen. Frank Shurden, in a statement issued on May 10, 2006.
“If these businesses fail to follow basic health guidelines, they could be spreading terrible diseases like Hepatitis or AIDs.”
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Oregon: You can’t leave your car door open
Chapter 811 of the Oregon legislature’s Rules of the Road for Drivers (Section 811.490) describes a legal penalty that can be applied to people who open a vehicle door improperly or leave a vehicle door open for an extended period.
Opening a vehicle door when it’s unsafe to do so and/or interfering with traffic flow, pedestrian crossings and passing bicyclists can result in a Class D traffic violation.
The same applies to people who leave vehicle doors open on the side of traffic, busy sidewalks or shoulders “for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.”
Pennsylvania: You can’t fire guns or set off explosives at weddings
A reckless endangerment code that was established to protect people during wedding festivities and similar gatherings was referenced in a Proposed Crimes Code for Pennsylvania document.
Submitted to the Keystone State’s General Assembly in 1967, it states that reckless acts like firing guns and explosives are against the law.
The document can be viewed on the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s website.
“Under Section 623 of The Penal Code of 1939 (18 P. S.§ 4623), it is a crime to serenade a wedding with guns or explosives,” the document states.
Rhode Island: You cannot steal poultry or receive stolen poultry
Title 11 (chapter 41, section 9) of Rhode Island’s General Laws on Criminal Offenses state it’s against the law to steal or receive stolen poultry.
“Every person who steals poultry from any building or enclosure in which poultry are kept or confined, or whoever shall receive poultry, knowing it to have been stolen, shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than one year or by fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500), or by both,” the legal code states.
The law says that one-half of the imposed fine “shall inure to the complainant.”
South Carolina: Males over age 16 can’t seduce someone ‘under the promise of marriage’
Title 16 on crimes and offenses (chapter 15, section 16-15-50) in the South Carolina Code of Laws characterizes seduction under the promise of marriage to be an offense against morality and decency — and male residents of a certain age aren’t allowed to do it.
“A male over the age of 16 years who by means of deception and promise of marriage seduces an unmarried woman in this State is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined at the discretion of the court or imprisoned not more than one year,” the law states.
The law also says “there must not be a conviction … on the uncorroborated testimony of the woman upon whom the seduction is charged.”
A man won’t be convicted if at trial it can be proven that “the woman was at the time of the alleged offense lewd and unchaste.” Contracting marriage before or after a conviction will result in “further proceedings of this section are stayed.”
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South Dakota: You can’t use fireworks to protect sunflower crops from birds
Title 34 (chapter 36, section 7), a public health and safety law that has since been repealed from South Dakota’s Codified Laws, permitted the use of fireworks or explosives to protect sunflower crops from birds. The act is now prohibited.
The State of South Dakota repealed the agricultural-focused pyrotechnic law in 2018 with House Bill No. 1015 during its 93rd session of the Legislative Assembly.
Before the repeal, farmers were allowed to use fireworks and explosives to scare off birds as long as they weren’t used with 660 feet of an occupied dwelling, church or schoolhouse — and as long as the action wasn’t done without written permission from an adjoining landowner.
Tennessee: You cannot import or possess a skunk (in most cases)
Unlawful importing of a skunk can result in a legal penalty, according to the Title 70 of the Tennessee Code’s Wildlife Resources (chapter 4, part 2) section.
The law prohibits “any person” from importing, possessing or causing the importation of a live skunk in the state of Tennessee. Selling, bartering, exchanging and transferring a skunk is not allowed.
There are certain exceptions for “bona fide zoological parks and research institutions” and people who have “a valid wildlife rehabilitation permit issued by the agency.”
Violators of the law will receive a Class C misdemeanor.
Texas: You can’t ‘solicit’ professional employment
In the Lone Star State, “soliciting” professional employment is an unlawful offense, according to Title 8 – Offenses Against Public Administration (section 38.12) of the Texas Statutes Penal Code.
“A person commits an offense if, with intent to obtain an economic benefit the person: (1) knowingly institutes a suit or claim that the person has not been authorized to pursue; (2) solicits employment, either in person or by telephone, for himself or for another,” the section states.
Violators of the law can receive a misdemeanor or felony.
Utah: Make sure you know the beer limit
Chapter four of the Utah Code’s Title 32B Alcoholic Beverage Control Act (section 32B-4-406.) sets a beer purchase limit for the public, which is outlined on the Utah State Legislature website.
“(A) a person may not sell, offer for sale, or furnish beer to the general public in a container that exceeds two liters; and (b) a person may not purchase or possess beer in a container that exceeds two liters,” the law states.
Container-size exceptions exist for retail licensees that are dispensing beer for consumption and beer wholesale licensees that are selling beer to a licensed retailer.
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Vermont: Be aware that imitation butter once had to be pink
On Nov. 13, 1890, the General Assembly of the State of Vermont passed a law that required margarine and all other forms of imitation butter and cheese to be dyed pink.
The law applied to dairy companies and keepers of hotels and restaurants.
“Whoever by himself, his agents or servants, shall sell, expose for sale, or have in his possession with intent to sell, any article or compound made in imitation of butter, and not wholly made from milk or cream and that is of any other color than pink, shall, for every package that he or they sell or expose for sale, be fined the sum of fifty dollars, and for each subsequent offence shall be fined the sum of one hundred dollars. Half of the fine shall go to the complainant,” the law stated.
The Supreme Court struck down all pink dye mandates for imitation butter, which had been enacted in other states, on May 23, 1898.
“Pink is not the color of oleomargarine in its natural state,” the court wrote in its ruling.
“To color the substance as provided for in the statute naturally excites a prejudice and strengthens a repugnance up to the point of a positive and absolute refusal to purchase the article at any price.”
Virginia: You can’t hunt near a place of worship on Sunday
Hunting on Sundays near a place of worship in Virginia is against the law.
The restriction is noted in the Code of Virginia’s Title 29.1. on Wildlife, Inland Fisheries and Boating, which is viewable on the state’s Legislative Information System.
Chapter five, article two of the law (section 29.1-521) specifies the animals that can’t be hunted on Sunday near a place of worship, in addition to what distance and weaponry types are acceptable for Sunday hunters.
“To hunt or kill on Sunday (i) any wild bird or wild animal, including any nuisance species, with a gun, firearm, or other weapon, within 200 yards of a place of worship or any accessory structure thereof or (ii) any deer or bear with a gun, firearm, or other weapon with the aid or assistance of dogs,” the law says.
Violators of the hunting restriction are punished with a Class 3 misdemeanor.
Washington: Don’t use X-rays as shoe-fitting devices (unless you’re a podiatrist)
Section 70A.388.190 of the Revised Code of Washington prohibits the use of X-ray machines for nonmedical foot measuring in shoe sales or otherwise.
“The operation or maintenance of any X-ray, fluoroscopic, or other equipment or apparatus employing roentgen rays, in the fitting of shoes or other footwear or in the viewing of bones in the feet is prohibited,” the law states.
“This prohibition does not apply to any licensed physician, surgeon, *podiatrist, or any person practicing a licensed healing art, or any technician working under the direct and immediate supervision of such persons.”
West Virginia: You can’t use ferrets as hunting animals
The West Virginia Legislature bans residents from using ferrets as hunting animals, according to chapter 20 of the state’s code on natural resources.
You cannot “hunt, catch, take, kill, injure, or pursue a wild animal or wild bird with the use of a ferret,” the chapter’s section 20-2-5 (subsection 10) states.
Using a ferret to hunt is considered an unlawful method of hunting in the Mountain State.
Wisconsin: You must have cheeses of a ‘fairly pleasing’ flavor
An administrative code in the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection specifies that certain cheeses made in America’s Dairyland should be “fairly pleasing” in flavor.
Chapter ATCP 81 on Cheese Grading, Packaging and Labeling states that Wisconsin grade B cheeses, such as cheddar, granular, washed curd cheese, Colby, Monterey Jack, brick and muenster cheese must have “a fairly pleasing characteristic cheese flavor,” as noted in sections ATCP 81.42, ATCP 81.52 and ATCP 81.62
The code says the aforementioned cheeses may also possess “undesirable flavors to a slight or very slight degree.”
Wyoming: You must have works of art for display on newly constructed public buildings
Title 16 (chapter 6, section 802) of the Wyoming Statutes describes “city, county, state and local powers” and “intergovernmental cooperation” laws for newly constructed public buildings.
A new building that uses state funds “shall include works of art for public display,” the law states.
The artwork mandate requires builders to allocate “an amount equal to one percent (1%) of total costs but not to exceed one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) on any one (1) project.”
New construction projects that cost less than $100,000 are reportedly “exempt from this subsection.”
Check out part one of our bizarre laws roundup here. And stay tuned for our full roundup of America’s oddest laws — coming soon.