8 Weird Laws States no Longer Enforce

by Rowan Guthrie
Book in library with old open textbook, stack piles of literature text archive on reading desk, and aisle of bookshelves in school study class room background for academic education learning concept

In the records of the American legal system, there's a plethora of weird laws. While some are quaintly quirky, others are perplexing or even laughable. Many no longer serve any practical purpose, and others have fallen into disuse, but these odd statutes still linger in state codes.

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Let’s explore a handful of these strange American laws and discover a little more about them. 

8 Weird American Laws That Still Exist

There are so many weird laws in the United States that there isn’t space to include even one from each state here. Therefore, we’ve chosen a selection that reflects the sheer scale and diversity available. 

1. California’s Frog-Jumping Law

According to California’s Fish and Game Code, Article 2, Frog-Jumping Contests (6880-6885), it’s illegal to eat a frog that died in a frog-jumping competition. The California Fish and Game Commission first introduced legislation to regulate and protect the California bullfrog in 1933. The Board of Directors of the 39th District Agricultural Association introduced a Frog Welfare Policy in 1995, so there’s no doubt the frogs are humanely handled. However, why the state made it illegal to eat one that died in the competition is a mystery.

2. Georgia’s Road and Chicken Law

Why did the chicken cross the road? We don't know, but it's actually illegal in Quitman, Georgia. Chapter 8 — Animals and Fowl, Section 8.1 states, "It shall be unlawful for any person owning or controlling chickens, ducks, geese or any other domestic fowl to allow the same to run at large upon the streets or alleys of the city or to be upon the premises of any other person, without the consent of such other person." We’re not sure how enthusiastically the city of Quitman enforces this weird law, but it's probably a good thing chickens aren't willfully disrupting traffic flow by crossing roads on their own.

3. Drunkenness Isn’t a Crime in Minnesota

As per Minnesota’s Statute 340A.902, you can’t be charged for being intoxicated in public or anywhere else in the state. This is because the State of Minnesota sees drunkenness as a social issue and not a criminal one. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be charged for a crime committed while being under the influence of alcohol, so it’s probably wiser to stay sober.

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4. Painting Horses in Vermont

You can be imprisoned for up to 6 months and/or fined as much as $500 if you paint a horse in Vermont. Chapter 47 of Title 13: Crimes and Criminal Procedure makes it illegal to knowingly misrepresent a horse for the purpose of competing, which includes painting it. While we understand the logic of a law that seeks to dissuade people from profiting by making a horse look healthier than it is, we can’t help wondering how painting it would fool anyone.

5. Stealing Waste Grease in North Carolina

In North Carolina, if you remove waste kitchen grease in containers labeled as not for removal, you’re committing either a Class 1 misdemeanor or Class H felony, depending on the monetary value of the grease. Consequently, under North Carolina General Statutes (Section 14-79.2), anyone committing this crime could be fined as much as $1,000. That's a lot of money for old grease.

6. Nobody Can Be Arrested in Ohio on Sundays

Before you think anyone can get away with a crime in Ohio on Sundays, this law relates to a specific place. Section 2331.12 of the Ohio Revised Code states that "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." Since the law is still in place, we’re guessing the police don’t normally encounter problems in the upper and lower chambers at these times.

7. Killing Bigfoot in Washington

Skamania County’s ordinance 69-01, later amended in 1984 and 1991, makes it illegal to kill Bigfoot. It declares “that any premeditated, willful and wanton slaying of any such creature shall be deemed a felony,” carrying a punishment of up to $10,000 and/or a 5-year prison sentence. In 1991, the county created a Sasquatch refuge, effectively a safe space for Bigfoot. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but the original law was brought in on April 1st — April Fools’ Day.

8. Causing a Catastrophe in Utah

According to Utah Code 76-6-105, “Any person is guilty of causing a catastrophe if the person causes widespread injury or damage to persons or property…” While laws preventing harm are welcome, what’s weird about this one is how it defines a catastrophe. Included in the definition are weapons of mass destruction and causing a flood or avalanche. It raises the question of how many people tried causing a catastrophe in Utah to make the state feel compelled to pass a law about it.

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