The men and woman of the police force can have a hard enough time enforcing laws that actually make the world a better place. When they are faced with laws that are outdated, don’t make any sense, or are just plain ridiculous, you can imagine they have their work cut out for them. These officers are sharing the most obscure laws their town requires them to enforce. You can almost hear them laughing after they write these tickets.
35. Well That’s A Conundrum
In South Carolina, it is illegal for retail stores to sell anything other than groceries or essential medical or hygiene products on Sundays.
I moved to the state and went grocery shopping on Sunday. I picked up a movie and a few outfits for my baby, got to the register and was told I could not purchase the outfits or movie. Because it was Sunday…the Lord’s day.
34. We’re Going To Need More Toilets
The town I where I went to college houses were not allowed to have more than 10 bedrooms.
Also, every floor of the house had to have a functioning toilet. It was weird because you would go to a house party and there would be a toilet in the middle of the basement, not in its own room, out in the open. Usually, they were next to the laundry machines because that’s where the plumbing was.
33. The Earth Is God’s Pinball Machine
There is a neighborhood in Toronto, Canada where it is illegal to sell alcohol in an establishment with more than two arcade games. Not the whole city, just this one particular neighborhood. A Pinball cafe opened in the said neighborhood, bringing in all sorts of the retro and new pinball machines that would rotate through. Opened with quite a bit of hype. First few months they were busy & had great reviews. But there was a hold up with the liquor license which caused them to lose money. Eventually, the license was denied based on this prohibition-era law that had never been taken off the books. Pinball cafe closed.
32. So You’re Telling Me I Have To Walk Out Of My House Naked
I am a cop in Vermont. Public nudity is legal in most cities but there’s a persistent myth even among fellow officers that you can’t take off your clothes in public (so essentially you’d have to walk out of your house naked.) Despite no basis at all for it, I’ve had supervisors try to insist I enforce the myth.
31. Deer In The Headlights
Nothing odd that we’re required to enforce, but there’s a few here and there that we can if we feel the need. A useful one that went in recently is those odd colored headlights and taillights. I only give out warnings for it, but it always throws people for a loop being stopped for it.
30. Back Up Those Balloons In Joshua Tree
Park Ranger Law Enforcement here, I did a detail in Joshua Tree and asked about strange laws they had. I was told that possession of balloons was unlawful because tortoises like shiny things, try to eat them and die.
29. Come And Knock On My Door
Actually, a law enforced in my town: if more than 3 people would like to live together, two of them must be related. This is a college town, so if 5 dudes wanted to live together, at least two of them would have to be related. It’s not enforced as much by private renters, but property managers and such have to follow to law.
28. Get Your Lukewarm Beer Here
I’ve got a doozy of a story for you.
I’m from Cleburne County, Alabama. We were a dry county up until the 70s when the probate judge (who was also a Baptist minister) realized that the county was going to go wet so he added a stipulation: no cold beer. For 30 odd years, only warm beer was sold in Cleburne County. Some people went over the mountain to get it cold, some stores actually had a deal where if you bought a case of beer they would give you a bag of ice.
The tiny town of Fruithurst was once a major wine destination before prohibition. There was a massive hotel and people from around the country would come and try the famous wine and see the vast vineyards. Fast forward beyond prohibition and into the early 21st century. The Fruithurst Winery Company opened after doing lots of research on whether or not the law loophole actually applied to them. As they discovered, the probate judge actually messed up the wordage and the county actually could have sold cold beer the entire time. They went ahead and ran it on the ballot again just to be on the safe side and it passed overwhelmingly.
27. Holy Potatoes
I’m a cop in Australia. If I catch you with having more than 50kg of potatoes in your possession I WILL arrest you. Mostly because it would be hilarious…. then I’ll un-arrest you because who really cares. Still illegal in Western Australia though.
26. The Leash Law
Arrested a guy for a leash law violation before. The city requires you maintain physical control of any animal in public, and specifically states a leash may be no longer than 6 feet. Call about a verbal disturbance in one of the parks. Get there and this dude is just being completely rude to this family just trying to have a BBQ (which is permitted). Don’t really have anything to arrest him on and he refuses to leave or at least go to a different area of the park. Then I notice he has one of those retractable leashes attached to his dog. Told him he was in violation of our city ordinance as the leash mechanism stated it went to 16 feet in length and it was clearly maxed out. Few minutes of the guy continuing to be an idiot and not leave, so I hooked him up for the leash law. Had another officer take the dog home to the family.
25. Watch Out For These Ridiculous Laws
UK here. In Chester, it’s legal to shoot a Welsh person with a bow and arrow inside city walls after midnight. In Hereford, you may not shoot a Welsh person on Sunday with a longbow in the Cathedral Close. In Liverpool, it is illegal for a woman to be topless in public except as a clerk in a tropical fish store. In York, excluding Sundays, it is perfectly legal to shoot a Scotsman with a bow and arrow.
24. Don’t Mess With An Officer And Silly String
A few towns over from me, silly string is banned completely after a group of kids sprayed an on-duty police officer with it at a town Apple Harvest Festival in the 90s. It’s not allowed to be sold at all, even in party stores or hobby stores.
23. Lobster In Prison Can’t Be All Bad
It’s still the law in Orange County California to not feed lobster to inmates more than 2x per week.
The law stems from when lobster was considered trash and a common by-catch from local ocean fishery. It seems the solution was to use them as protein in the local jails, and the prisoners revolted.
22. Stand By Your Man
I am retired from the cop game but I did it for almost 20 years. This is more of a state law and I was not required to enforce it but one night I had to go back to a house 4 times due to a married couple arguing very loudly. (No violence was involved.) I advised them on my third visit that maybe it would be best if one of them spent the night somewhere else so they could cool off. Both of them refused to leave so I asked them to try and settle the situation because I didn’t want to have to visit them again and I went on my way. On my final return visit they were outside in the driveway and as I was walking up I heard the female admit to sleeping with someone else the night before so I arrested her for adultery, which is a misdemeanor in that state, and took her to jail. I didn’t have to go back that night.
21. No Intoxicated Driving On Your Horse
I am a cop. In Kentucky, we have “may arrest” statutes, and “shall arrest” statutes. For the “may arrest” ones, we have discretion as to whether or not to arrest. For the “shall arrest” ones, there is no discretion. These are commonly in service to an arrest warrant, or violation of domestic violence orders.
DUI of a motor vehicle is a “may arrest” statute.
DUI of a non-motor vehicle is a “shall arrest” statute. What might be classified as a non-motor vehicle? Well…a horse, for one.
Yep. If I encounter a fella intoxicated riding a mare down East Main street, technically I have to arrest him. Though more often than not, the horse knows the way home.
20. That Might Cause A Scene
There’s a vague law against lewd and lascivious behavior, which gives us some discretion if someone is being naked and inappropriate. Otherwise sometimes cities will have local ordinances against nudity in public parks, and of course, businesses can refuse service for hygienic reasons.
I think more people don’t exercise the ability to be naked more due to social pressures. You still get a lot of (possibly unwanted) attention if you’re walking around nude.
19. An Elephant Walks Into A Bar
I work at the sheriff’s office in Missouri. In the entire state, it’s illegal for you to get an elephant wasted.
So far haven’t had to book anyone in for that but I’ve only been at it for a few weeks so fingers crossed.
18. Gettysburg Address
In the borough of Gettysburg, it is unlawful to give a battlefield tour without being a “Licensed Battlefield Guide”. This license is received only after passing an insanely rigorous exam (think a “bar exam” for Gettysburg buffs.)
This law is in place because not long after the battle tourism at the battlefield became big business. Day trippers would arrive at the rail depot in the morning and be accosted by dozens of tour guides (some of them young boys) with wagons and picnic lunches for rent who would drive you over the battlefield and just make up stuff as they went along:
“Oh yeah this is where General Lee decided to hulk out in order to take the infinity stone from General Sickles, but Hancock led a charge of the 1st Wakanda infantry and with his shield blocked the attack.”
17. Crossing The Street Is Serious Business
My city is one of the first places colonized in Canada and technically 2 laws are still in place but never enforced. 1 is that horses always have the right of way (tourist city we still have horse and buggy go through town.) And 2, if you are crossing the street you need to ring a bell the whole way across to announce your presence.
16. Be Careful Not To Cross A Line In Austrailia
In my hometown had an interesting covenant on the original land from when the town was first subdivided in 1887 that lasted into the 1990’s. No alcohol was to be sold or manufactured on the land. Being Australia, someone was always going to find a way around this… The only place you could buy alcohol was just beyond the outskirts of town where the pub sat just outside the original subdivision. So for many years, it was called the Collendina Hotel because it was in Collendina not the town of Ocean Grove. It’s since been renamed and you can now buy alcohol in town at some bottle shops, restaurants, etc. Was interesting that such a quirk of a law lasted as long as it did in what was effectively a tourist town.
15. It’s Ladies Night
New Orleans police officer here. Not so much are we required to enforce, but there is Loitering by Women of Ill Repute, which says abandoned women are not allowed to drink inside bars. If my stats are low I always swear I am going to go to a ladies night and arrest every single woman in the joint.
14. You Can’t Stand Next To It, You Can’t Stand Straddling It
I work security at a factory complex, and we have a really specific rule about employees who smoke and ride motorcycles.
The general rule is, you can only smoke outside in your vehicle. However, if you ride a motorcycle, you have to be sitting on the bike to smoke. You can’t stand next to it, you can’t stand straddling it, you MUST be sitting on it or it’s a no-go.
13. Keeping Up With The Joneses Yard
Grass lengths and yard care related complaints. I’ve never cited anyone for it, but we have a special unit that does. This is specific to my precinct since its the upper-class Suburbs.
12. Is That A Wire Cutter In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Happy To See Me
In Austin, TX it’s illegal to hold or carry wire cutters in your pockets.
In a tool bag, fine. In your pockets/hand illegal.
Law runs back to the day where people didn’t like fences and disputed land purchases. Issues with people cutting barbed wire down to wonder/pass through the land.
11. Wrap That Ice Cream Before You Put It In Your Pocket
I am a cop. In KY it’s illegal to carry unwrapped ice cream in your back pocket. Horses might follow you home.
10. Here’s Your Ticket Ma’am
We do not have a drug paraphernalia law yet we do have a dog poop law. If an eyewitness sees your dog poop on any property other than its own, the owner can be fined $100.
Carry around any drug paraphernalia? Have a good day ma’am. Walk around a dog who poops? Here’s your ticket ma’am.
9. Riddle Me This
It is contrary to Pennsylvania law to discharge a gun, cannon, revolver or another explosive weapon at a wedding. All liquor stores must be run by the state. It is illegal to have over 16 women live in a house together because that constitutes a brothel. Motorized vehicles are not to be sold on Sundays.
8. Sorry, No Sandwich For You Officer
There’s a pre-independence law in Ireland that prevents police being given refreshments in any place that sells alcohol. This technically means a cop can’t buy a sandwich, packet of crisps or a drink in a shop that sells so much as wine, which is most of them.
7. Go Figure, Mary Poppins
In London England, The Metropolitan Police Act Of 1839 states that kite flying in a public place is punishable by a fine of up to £200 if it causes “annoyance to other people”… Go Figure, Mary Poppins
6. Off To The Chair With You
I’m a cop. This is a super old law but it never got taken away. Stealing someone’s livestock is punished by death.
This one can be used too, spitting on a sidewalk is a misdemeanor.
5. Limit Your Furballs To No More Than Two, Please
My city only allows you to have 2 pets. 1 dog 1 cat. 2 dogs. 2 cats. Anything. The fine is $300 per pet that is over and it is not a one time fine. If they have to go back you get fined again until you get rid of the pets or move out of the city.
4. Thankfully This One Is Abandoned
Former State Park Ranger here: Thankfully never needed to enforce this law, but It is legal to shoot a Native American on horseback, provided you are in a covered wagon. It’s a really old law, obviously, and I think the state abandoned it long ago. But the county I worked in still has it on the books.
3. I Will Disco Dance Up To Them With My Ticket Book
I’m a cop in San Francisco. A fun fact is that a club with a dance floor/dance area that can hold 500 or more persons is required to provide free cool drinking water. That’s you giant raves who charge $10 for a bottle of water. If you see them charging give me a call and I will disco dance up to them with my ticket book.
2. Don’t Water Mr. Ed At Church
In my town on Sunday’s, it is illegal to water your horse in front of a church from 10 Am to 3 Pm. Sounds reasonable right except it’s to keep people from literally watering their horses like plants not that they can’t drink in front of the church. They as in the horses.
1. Some Laws Are Just Completely Bizarre
I am a cop, however, I find the notion of “town specific” laws completely bizarre. One set of state-enforced laws can be confusing enough.
In Australia, each state has laws that are enforced by one Police Force only. E.g. my police force, about 17k officers, all follow the same rule book.
Surely this is a better option operationally and importantly, as far as accountability and corruption resistance is concerned.