Best of America

Here Are 50 of the Dumbest Laws in Every State

Your home state could have the nation's stupidest law. By the way: You're probably breaking some of these right now.

Alabama: No stink bombs or confetti

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If you're a stodgy school principal from a 1980s film, consider moving to Mobile, Alabama: Stink bombs, "funk balls," and any object "the purpose of which is to create disagreeable odors" are strictly illegal there. Also illegal: “spray string,” confetti, and bathing in public fountains. (Think you're innocent? You're probably breaking one of these real marriage laws right now.)

Alaska: No getting drunk in a bar

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In Alaska it is illegal to be drunk… in a bar. Per state laws, a person who is already drunk may not “knowingly” enter a bar to drink more, or remain in the bar that got them drunk in the first place. Confusing and cruel? Yes. Outdated? Sadly, no—police actually enforce it. (Think that's a waste of time? Just listen to these real, idiotic 911 calls.)

Arizona: No spitting in public

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In the town of Goodyear, Arizona, it is unlawful to spit “in or on” any public building, park, sidewalk, or road. Offenders may be charged a fine of up to $2,500 and six months in prison. (And in case you need a reminder, it's also just lousy etiquette.)

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Arkansas: Must pronounce state name correctly

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Visitors beware: it is strictly prohibited to pronounce “Arkansas” incorrectly. Per the state Code, the only acceptable pronunciation is “in three (3) syllables, with the final 's' silent, the 'a' in each syllable with the Italian sound, and the accent on the first and last syllables.” So keep your Arkan-sass to yourself—and while you're at it, make sure you're pronouncing these common food words correctly.

California: No nuclear weapons, obviously

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It is illegal to build, maintain, or use a nuclear weapon within Chico, California city limits. A law that began in the ‘80s as a serious anti-nuke statement has taken on a second life as an Internet joke, mainly due to the purported consequences: In addition to self-annihilation, the infraction also carries a $500 fine.

Colorado: No catapulting

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Sure, you may be allowed to own a catapult in Aspen—but you better not try discharging it, buddy. Flaming arrows, alas, are also off limits.

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Connecticut: Pickles must bounce

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A pickle cannot be sold unless it bounces. According to a 1948 article, this law became a necessity after two scheming pickle packers tried to sell pickles “unfit for human consumption” on the sly. Connecticut’s Food and Drug Commissioner at the time proclaimed that a real pickle “should bounce” when dropped from the height of one foot, leading to a new state regulation.

Delaware: Strict trick-or-treating times enforced

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To prevent “mischief of any sort,” children in the City of Rehoboth Beach may only go trick-or-treating between the hours of 6pm and 8pm on Halloween—UNLESS Halloween falls on a Sunday; in that case, “such going door to door and house to house for treats shall take place on the evening of October 30” instead.

Florida: No selling children

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We know that kids can be annoying (especially when they say things like this in school) but please remember that in Florida it is a felony to sell your children. You've been warned.

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Georgia: Can't eat fried chicken with utensils

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For chicken chompers in Gainesville, Georgia, “finger-lickin’” is not a suggestion—it is mandatory. Thanks to a 1961 law added to the city code as a publicity stunt, it is illegal to eat fried chicken in “the poultry capital of the world” with anything other than your fingers. A tourist was “arrested” for such a chicken-forking violation in 2009.

Hawaii: No billboards

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Hawaii’s natural beauty is an advertisement unto itself. To keep it that way, the state has officially outlawed billboards (with some exceptions) and aerial advertising, part of an “urban beautification” initiative that dates to 1927. These aren’t so much “dumb laws” as “laws that make us feel dumb for not thinking of them first.”

Idaho: No cannibalism

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Idaho is the only state to have an active ban on cannibalism. Technically not a crime in the rest of the nation, cannibalism is defined as the “nonconsensual consumption” of another human—meaning, we guess, if you can get your buddy’s permission to eat his tenderloin, the feds can’t stop you.

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Illinois: No "fancy" bike riding

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Listen here, city slicker: Galesburg city law strictly prohibits “fancy riding” of any bicycle on city streets, particularly riding with both hands removed from the handlebars, both feet removed from the pedals, or “any acrobatic” shenanigans on your fancy velocipede. According to a Galesburg police officer, “I suspect the trick riding ordinance came during a time or concern about bicyclist safety and perhaps crashes involving bicyclists.” It is seldom enforced.

Indiana: Proper black cat etiquette on Friday the 13th

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In the municipality of French Lick Springs, all black cats must wear bells around their necks on Friday the 13th. The rule was introduced on October 13, 1939, “as a war measure to alleviate mental strain on the populace,” and has technically been in effect since. Better watch out for these 8 days that are even unluckier than Friday the 13th.

Iowa: No faking your butter

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I Can’t Believe It’s Not A Misdemeanor! Any person who attempts to pass off margarine, oleo, or oleomargarine as real butter is guilty of a simple misdemeanor in the stat of Iowa, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $625 fine.

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Kansas: No snowballs

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It may still be illegal to throw snowballs in Topeka, Kansas. Thanks to a weirdly-worded law in the city Criminal Code, it is unlawful to “throw any stones, snowballs, or any other missiles” at any person or property in Topeka, an ordinance that former mayor Bill Bunten publicly flouted by tossing a whopper at a snowy tree in 2005. “I'm going to have an ordinance drawn up to repeal this Dumb Law lest our already-crowded prisons are filled up with children who, while making a snowman, got carried away and had a snowball fight,” he later claimed.

Kentucky: No dueling

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All public officials and attorneys in Kentucky must swear an oath that they "have not fought a duel with deadly weapons" nor acted as a second in another person's duel. Good to know now; unfortunately, when the oath took effect in 1848, many would-be duelists turned to murderous street brawls instead. (Related: Did you know that Alexander Hamilton was involved in at least 10 duels?)

Louisiana: No catfish stealing

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In Louisiana it is illegal to steal someone else’s crawfish—like, really illegal. Meriting its own state law, crawfish theft in excess of $1,500 can land the offender with up to ten years prison time or a $3,000 fine. But mostly, they will have to endure the humiliation of being called shellfish for the rest of their life.

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Maine: Don't advertise on tombstones

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It is forbidden to post advertisements on another person’s tombstone in the city of Wells. Part of a lengthy list of cemetery regulations, this ordinance is really a favor to would-be marketers; nobody is a worse customer than a corpse. (Related: Here are 13 things a funeral director won't tell you.)

Maryland: No cursing while driving

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Making road rage even rage-ier, it is illegal to swear or curse upon any street or highway in Rockville, Maryland. Anyone caught swearing faces a misdemeanor charge, effectively having to add $100 to the city swear jar.

Massachusetts: No dancing to the national anthem

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It is prohibited to dance to the “Star Spangled Banner” in Massachusetts, thanks to an excessively patriotic 1917 law. While you try to ponder what such a dance would even look like, find solace in the fact that this law could never actually be enforced, thanks to a slightly weightier document called the First Amendment. Don't miss these fascinating facts about the national anthem.

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Michigan: Bounty hunting encouraged (then not)

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Until 2006, every citizen of Michigan was encouraged to be a bounty hunter. A 1941 act titled “An act to provide for the payment of bounties for the killing of starlings and crows,” offered any citizen a bounty of three cents per each starling killed and ten cents per crow—so long as they were presented in “a state of good preservation.” The law was repealed in 2006.

Minnesota: No pig greasing

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Long winters can be boring, but that’s no good reason to hold a greased pig contest in your parlor. Since 1971, it has been considered a misdemeanor to operate, run, or participate in any activity where a pig is oiled up and released with the object of being recaptured—and the same goes for “turkey scrambles.”

Mississippi: No limits on Big Gulp size

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Mississippi believes in a person’s inalienable right to consume Big Gulps. Following former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s contentious attempt to restrict the size of soft drinks sold throughout the city, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed a law preventing his state’s lawmakers from enacting rules that limit portion sizes. Thanks in part to the “Anti-Bloomberg Bill,” one in three Mississippians remains obese.

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Missouri: Tarzans not welcome

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Prankish Tarzans, be warned: In University City, Missouri, it is illegal to “swing upon” another person’s motor vehicle and honk their horn for them.

Montana: No "folf"

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Anyone who’s driven through Montana has inevitably wondered, “how far could I throw a Frisbee over the plains?” Those who seek answers, avoid Helena; it is illegal to play “folf” (that’s “Frisbee golf”) anywhere not deemed a sanctioned “folf course.” Curiosity could cost you $500 or six months jail time.

Nebraska: No marriage if you have VD

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Technically, no person afflicted with a venereal disease may get married in Nebraska. Meanwhile, state officials are still unable to get a green-light for their new TV show, Law And Order: VDU.

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Nevada: Be selective with X-rays

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Say what you will about the vice and commercialism of Las Vegas—at least they’re looking out for your feet. In Nevada, it is illegal to use an x-ray device to determine someone’s shoe size.

New Hampshire: No seaweed collecting

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In New Hampshire it is forbidden to collect seaweed from the beach at night. Yes, it’s unfair, but you should’ve thought about that before becoming a nocturnal sushi chef.

New Jersey: No murder while wearing a bulletproof vest

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It’s against the law to murder someone, but in Jersey it’s double against the law to murder someone while you’re wearing a bulletproof vest. See if you can follow along: wearing a bulletproof vest while committing or attempting to commit a crime of the first degree, is a crime of the second degree.

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New Mexico: Redefinining indecent exposure

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Let’s take a break to focus on what’s not illegal: walking around with your butt out. In New Mexico, “indecent exposure” is defined as “intentionally exposing [one’s] primary genital area to public view.” Buttocks are nowhere to be mentioned.

New York: Sales tax for sliced bagels

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If you order a sliced bagel in New York City, fuhgeddabout a square deal: “altered” bagels (sliced, toasted, or served with cream cheese, etc.) carry an eight cent sales tax. Uncut bagels are typically tax exempt.

North Carolina: Be careful with your doggie bag

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Be careful what you put in your doggy bag: In North Carolina it is a felony to steal more than $1,000 worth of grease, and a misdemeanor to steal under $1,000-worth. Grease theft, it turns out, was a huge problem in NC before this 2012 law passed, with midnight grease-bandits persistently preventing Biodiesel companies from purchasing restaurants’ excess oil to convert into fuel.

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North Dakota: No late-night fireworks

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Happy almost New Year! Despite a 1999 amendment allowing the sale of fireworks temporarily from December 26, 1999 through January 1st, 2000,  it is illegal to set off fireworks after 11p.m. in Devil’s Lake, North Dakota.

Ohio: Toilet paper in coal mines, please!

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Operators of underground coal mines must provide “an adequate supply of toilet paper” with each toilet. It’s too bad the letter of the law here stops at coal mines.

Oklahoma: No bear wrestling

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In Oklahoma it is illegal to promote, engage in, or be employed by a “horse tripping” event. Also, it is unlawful to wrestle a bear… but at that point, the law is the least of your worries.

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Oregon: No "tests of physical endurance" ... while driving

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It is considered a speed racing offense in Oregon if you participate in any “test of physical endurance” while on the highway. Sorry, y’all: No more seeing how long you can work the steering wheel with your teeth.

Pennsylvania: Bingo is only for non-felons

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Fool me once, shame on you: No person convicted of a felony may operate a Bingo game in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.

Rhode Island: Don't impersonate an auctioneer

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Rhode Island “false personification” laws deem it unlawful to impersonate an auctioneer. Choose your Halloween costume accordingly.

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South Carolina: No working (or dancing!) on Sundays

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Good news: In South Carolina it is still illegal to work on Sundays! Bad news: it is also illegal to dance on Sundays. Fans of work and/or footwork will both be happy to hear, these antiquated laws are in the process of being repealed.

South Dakota: Fireworks approved to help with farming

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Farmers in South Dakota have the green-light to set off fireworks or explosives to protect their sunflower crops… so long as they are six hundred sixty feet away from the nearest church, home, or schoolhouse.

Tennessee: Permits for panhandling

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Panhandlers in Memphis must apply for a permit before panhandling. Formerly, this formality cost the destitute $10. Today, it’s free.

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Texas: Keep litter on aircrafts

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It is illegal in Galveston, Texas to throw litter out of an aircraft. Besides, using the blue bins is so much easier.

Utah: No missiles in bus terminals

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Hurling a missile into a bus terminal is a felony—unless you are an appointed officer of the peace or commercial security personnel (see: mall cop.)

Vermont: Clotheslines, be gone

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Vermont passed a law just to say there would never be a law prohibiting the use of clotheslines. Good to know.

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Virginia: No skunks as pets

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In Prince William County, it is illegal to keep a skunk as a pet. Man, the law stinks. (By the way: If your dog ever gets skunked, here's what to do about it.)

Washington: No Sasquatch poaching

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It is illegal to poach a Sasquatch in at least two Washington counties. In 1991, Whatcom Country declared its roughly one million acres of land an official Sasquatch Protection and Refuge Area, giving our nation its first Bigfoot Sanctuary. If Bigfoot exists, lawmakers reasoned, it would be an endangered species, and therefore in need of protection. For this reason, Skamania County has considered Bigfoot-poaching a felony since 1969—still punishable by a $1000 fine.

West Virginia: No drones for bird hunting

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In West Virginia it is illegal to use a drone “or other unmanned aircraft” to hunt birds. While you’re out in the woods, you’d better not use a ferret instead of a hunting dog; that’s a $100 fine right there.

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Wisconsin: Better make that butter delicious

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Giving credence to its reputation as “America’s Dairyland,” Wisconsin law demands that all cheese and butter produced in the state be “highly pleasing.” Oh, and cows have the right-of-way on highways.

Wyoming: Don't buy junk from a drunk

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

Like Mama always said, “don’t buy junk from a drunk.” In Wyoming, purchasing scrap “metals, rubber, rags or paper” from an intoxicated person is prohibited.

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