Part 1: An Introduction
As the old Cole Porter song says, “Times have changed.” And in the hundreds of years since The United States of America came into being, countless laws have been added to the books that would never even be considered today. Some of these laws are downright discriminatory, while others just seem ridiculous.
But the truth is, these acts are still considered illegal, and law enforcement sometimes use these antiquated restrictions to arrest people. In the first part of our series, we’ll take a look at some of the strangest laws that could, despite their obvious lunacy, still land people fines or even jail time.
Alaska: In Alaska, there are some odd restrictions on being drunk at a bar. It’s illegal to arrive at a bar drunk, drink there while drunk, or serve a drunk person.
California: In Fresno, CA, it’s illegal to sell permanent markers. Since it’s also illegal to sell spray paint, this is presumably supposed to discourage graffiti artists. Fresno actually has a lot of weird laws, including one forbidding bingo games that aren’t open to the public.
Florida: In Tampa Bay, it’s illegal to eat cottage cheese after 6 p.m. on Sundays. Why? We’re still scratching our heads. Florida is actually rife with strange, outdated laws forbidding actions like riding a bike without holding the handlebars and having sex in any position other than missionary.
Hawaii: It is illegal to put coins in one’s ear in Hawaii. According to this source, putting coins in your ear used to signify illegal drug activity.
Indiana: Black cats must wear bells around their necks on Friday the 13th in French Lick Springs. This appears to be a precaution against the bad luck that black cats supposedly bring.
Massachusetts: Dancing to The Star Spangled Banner is illegal. So is using it an exit march or part of a medley. All of these offences can result in a fine of up to $100.
Michigan: A married woman may not cut her own hair without the consent of her husband. This is likely a residual law from eras when women had few to no rights of their own.
Believe it or not, some of these outdated laws are actually enforced. For example, a law prohibiting cohabitation before marriage in Florida resulted in 104 misdemeanors in 2011. What should you do if you’re the victim of a ludicrous law that’s somehow still on the books? Find out more in our next post.
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