These days, you can find yourself on the wrong side of the law for speeding, littering and — apparently — whistling in public.
If you dig deep enough on the internet, you can find all sorts of bizarre rules and regulations that our governments have created over the years. Some are still in effect today, including laws that don’t make much sense and strange taxes on things like tattoos.
Although many laws imposed by states are designed to keep citizens safe, others are weird, strange or just downright silly. And, if you violate them, you can get fined — or worse.
Last updated: Dec. 31, 2019
Alabama: Throwing Confetti in the City of Mobile
Mobile, Alabama, might be the birthplace of Mardi Gras, but that doesn’t mean you can carry or toss confetti to celebrate. The glittery stuff is illegal to use or sell within the city or police jurisdiction under the Alabama littering code, according to the private legal publisher Municode. Throwing confetti results in a $16 fine and $106 in court costs, according to city code.
Alaska: Speaking Too Loudly
Do you have a habit of talking loudly to get your point across? You’ll have to take it down a notch in Fairbanks, where it’s a crime to speak so loudly that it inhibits someone else from speaking freely without leaving the vicinity. That would be considered disturbing the peace, according to city code. In Alaska, penalties for disorderly conduct — including disturbing the peace — could entail fines of up to $2,000, up to 90 days in jail or both, according to FindLaw.
Arizona: Spitting on the Sidewalk
If you spit publicly in the city of Goodyear, whether on a public walkway, street, park or the ground, you could face up to six months in jail and a fine of $2,500. You can also forget about spitting on the floor inside of a public building, according to the Goodyear government website. This is one pricey mistake you don’t want to make.
Arkansas: Playing More Than 25 Free Games of Pinball
Arkansas is particular about its pinball rules. For one, a winning player can only have 25 free games. Additionally, coin-operated pinball machines and similar devices cannot take more than one coin — that’s a misdemeanor punishable by up to $1,000 and/or a year in jail, according to the free legal site Justia.
California: Allowing Dogs To Pursue Bears or Bobcats
Dog owners, beware: Don’t allow your four-legged companion to chase a bear or bobcat. State law says that doing so is a misdemeanor. Dogs used by law enforcement officers are exempt, however.
Colorado: Placing Upholstered Furniture Outside the Home
Unless your furnishings are specifically upholstered for outside use, the city of Boulder considers it illegal to keep them in the yard. If caught, you’ll wind up paying the removal and disposal fee, as well as $25 for administrative costs.
Connecticut: Having More Than 4 Amusement Devices per Arcade
An arcade in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, should not have more than four mechanical amusement devices — including coin-slot operated machines and pinball machines, according to the city government ordinance. The way the law is written, video games might be fine, but that could just be because the law is outdated. Violators could face a $25 fine per day.
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Delaware: Selling Pet Fur
Never use pet hair as monetary leverage in Delaware. It’s a Class B misdemeanor to sell, barter or offer the fur of a domestic dog or cat, according to the state government website.
This includes selling any product made from the hair, which could result in a fine of $2,500 and a ban on owning a dog or cat for 15 years.
Florida: Throwing Dwarfs
Apparently, dwarf-tossing was once a popular bar game in Florida. In fact, the state banned the practice of tossing people with dwarfism — and any “recreational activity involving exploitation endangering the health, safety and welfare of any person with dwarfism” — in 1989. If caught participating in this activity, you could be fined $1,000. One lawmaker tried to reverse the law in 2011, claiming that the government shouldn’t decide how people make a living.
Georgia: Whistling in Public
In Athens-Clarke County, it’s unlawful to create noise that’s audible from a distance of 300 feet or more beyond property limits. The rule applies from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 7 a.m. to midnight on weekends.
In particular, one cannot shout, hoot, sing or whistle on public streets, sidewalks or any private property, according to Municode. Violators face a $1,000 fine.
Hawaii: Not Wearing Your Seat Belt — Unless You’re in a Pickup Truck
Hawaii’s universal seat belt law requires everyone riding in a vehicle to buckle up — whether sitting in front or back. If not, you’ll pay a ticket ranging from $102 to $112.
That part of the law might not seem strange, but Hawaii also says you can go sans seat belt if you’re sitting in the bed of a pickup truck, which is legal when there is no seating in the cab of the vehicle, and when the side racks are securely attached and the tailboard or tailgate is securely closed. The fine for not adhering to the truck regulation is $25.
Idaho: Grading and Packing Potatoes Incorrectly
Misrepresenting the potato when it comes to grading or packaging in Idaho could get you slapped with a fine of up to $500 and/or jail time, according to the state. All potatoes sold should be of the same variety and nearly the same shape and size, though up to 6% in any container can vary in grade.
Illinois: Letting Someone Sleep in a Bakery
Illinois law dictates that one cannot sleep in a bakery, kitchen, creamery or cheese factory. You also can’t allow your employees to sleep on the job, according to the state. The fine amount is unclear, however.
Additionally, you can get fined up to $25 for expectorating where food is made or prepared.
Indiana: Sniffing Glue for Excitement
Some enjoy the aromas of candles and fresh flowers … and others apparently find pleasure in glue. According to Indiana law, sniffing glue for pleasure — or to get high — could cost you up to $1,000. The statute clearly says any person who inhales or ingests the fumes of glue or other substances commits a Class B misdemeanor.
Iowa: Using a Deceased Person’s Handicap Permit
If you had access to a handicap-parking permit, would you use it? If the answer is yes, avoid traveling to Iowa. You could face a $200 fine if caught using a permit you don’t need, according to an ABC affiliate in the state. This isn’t necessarily outrageous since you shouldn’t be using a permit that doesn’t belong to you, but it is a hefty fine.
Iowa’s Department of Transportation stopped issuing lifetime handicap parking permits in an effort to end misuse. Permits now expire after five years.
Kansas: Hunting Rabbits From a Motorboat or Helicopter
Whether it’s a hare, deer or fowl, K.S.A. 32-1003 explicitly states that it’s unlawful to “take any game animal or furbearing animal from a motorboat, airplane, motor vehicle or other water, air or land vehicle,” unless you hold a valid handicapped hunting and fishing permit. Upon a second wildlife violation, you could be charged up to $250, according to the Kansas Office of Revisor of Statutes.
Kentucky: Dyeing a Duckling Blue
Before you dye your livestock in Kentucky, you should understand the rules. You are not allowed to dye a duckling and offer it for sale unless it’s in a group of six, according to the Kentucky government website. The law extends to dyeing any live baby chicks, ducklings, fowl or rabbits. Violating this rule could land you a fine of $100 to $500.
Louisiana: Sending Pizza as a Prank
Unless given as a gift, don’t prank a friend by sending a pizza to his or her house. The tab could end up costing you more than the price of laughs — $500 to be exact. According to Louisiana law, no person shall “intentionally place an order for any goods or services to be supplied or delivered to another person” unless they authorize it, live with you or you’re sending it as a gift. The gesture can also be seen as harassment, so tread carefully.
Maine: Erecting Billboards on Highways
Maine is actually one of several states where highway billboards are illegal. According to the state’s government page, you could face a fine of up to $500 for violating this law.
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Maryland: Gambling at Any Game Using Dice
How would you like to be fined $100 or even go to prison for playing a game? Both are possibilities in Maryland. Basically, any game that involves dice and wagering money is against the law in this state, according to Municode.
Massachusetts: Not Completing the National Anthem
In Massachusetts, you’ll never hear just a portion of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at a baseball game or other public entertainment venues. Singing or playing the national anthem other than in its entirety is punishable by a fine of up to $100, according to state law. The same goes for dancing to the song.
Michigan: Committing Adultery
Do you have a cheating spouse? A 1931 statute says adultery is a felony in Michigan. The unfaithful spouse could face up to four years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine, according to Michigan’s legislature.
The law was put to the test in 2012 when Police Sgt. James Myers was fired for on-the-job misconduct, including allegedly cheating on his wife and having a relationship with a local waitress. Although he lost his job, he never did jail time or paid a fine.
Minnesota: Holding a Greased Pig Contest or Turkey Scramble
Somewhere along the line, Minnesotans got creative with their barnyard games. The state, however, doesn’t approve of tossing greased-up pigs, turkeys and chickens for fun.
Mississippi: Having Multiple Illegitimate Children
Legally, you can have one illegitimate child in Mississippi — just don’t have more. According to state law, this is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a few months in jail and/or a fine of up to $500.
It’s important to note that the court won’t convict solely on the unconfirmed testimony of the child’s mother.
Missouri: Braiding Hair Without a License
You have to have a specialty braiding license to braid African-American hair in Missouri, according to the Institute for Justice. So, before you perform your next braid, be ready to shell out for a proper license and put aside some time for proper training.
Montana: Driving an Animal Onto a Railroad Track
In Montana, make sure to stay off the railroad tracks with your pets. If you’re found to have willfully driven the animal onto the track and caused it injury, you could face a $50,000 fine, up to five years in jail or both, according to state law.
Nebraska: Hosting a Bingo Game Without a License
In Nebraska, you need a license to drive, sell alcohol, practice law … and host a game of bingo, apparently. It might seem like a petty crime, but the fine is anything but — fines for Class I misdemeanors can be as much as $1,000. Under the Nebraska Bingo Act, no person without a license can run a bingo operation where a prize of more than $25 is awarded.
Nevada: Throwing Things From a Chairlift
You aren’t allowed to throw things from a chairlift in Nevada, according to Justia. So, if you have plans to hit the slopes this year, avoid throwing, tossing, casting or intentionally dropping any items on your way up the mountain. Although the penalty is unclear, chances are you could get hit with a fine if caught.
New Hampshire: Weighing Milk Without a License
New Hampshire is very particular about who handles its dairy products. According to the state’s milk and milk products law, “any person who weighs, measures or samples a producer’s milk for the purpose of determining the amount and quality of milk as a basis for paying for product purchased” needs to have a “license showing that the holder is competent and qualified to perform such work.”
New Jersey: Annoying Someone of the Opposite Sex
Annoying people might not get invited to many parties. In Haddon, New Jersey, however, they also can get hit with fines. According to New Jersey law, individuals who approach or accost members of the opposite sex in public places are subject to punishment. And habitual hand wavers should take note: The law applies to both verbal harassment and gestures.
New Mexico: 'Indecent' Waitering
Waiters or waitresses in New Mexico should refrain from showing their “intimate parts” while serving customers, according to online legal database LawServer. Anyone who commits this indecent act is guilty of a petty misdemeanor and can be fined up to $500 and/or serve jail time.
New York: Taking a Tiger Selfie
Take big cats off your selfie list if you plan to visit New York. Although taking pictures with tigers to post on dating apps is a popular trend, legislation was introduced in 2014 to prevent a potential mauling. Exhibitors of tigers and other animals that fall into the “big cat” category are prohibited from allowing a member of the public to have physical contact with the animal. Don’t worry, though, you can still snap a photo with a chimp without incurring a fine.
North Carolina: Stealing Kitchen Grease
Credit the grease bandits for getting this law on the books. The law was established in 2012 after countless issues with kitchen grease thefts, according to Justia. People who steal grease worth less than $1,000 are guilty of a misdemeanor. People who steal more than $1,000 worth of grease are guilty of a low-level felony.
North Dakota: Setting Off Fireworks After 11 p.m.
If your Fourth of July plans have you traveling to Devils Lake, North Dakota, take heed. Local law prevents you from setting off fireworks after 11 p.m. Additionally, you can get in trouble for pyrotechnics displays at unsanctioned times of the year. To avoid fines, refrain from setting off fireworks except from July 1-5.
Ohio: Coughing on Public Transportation
In Ohio, you can’t expectorate on someone while riding on public transportation, according to LAWriter Ohio Laws and Rules. You also can’t cough in a facility or vehicle, according to Ohio legislation. Under state law, this is a minor misdemeanor and could cost you $150 if it’s your first offense. If not, it’s a misdemeanor in the fourth degree.
Oklahoma: Bear Wrestling or Horse Tripping
It’s unlawful to engage in or be employed at a horse tripping or bear wrestling event in Oklahoma, according to the state’s animal cruelty statutes. That means no selling, purchasing or offering up a bear or horse for this purpose. Committing such an act is considered animal cruelty, and you’ll likely get smacked with a fine of up to $2,000. You could also face the possibility of jail time.
Oregon: Hunting in Cemeteries
Hunting in a graveyard might seem strange, but Oregon enacted a law to prevent just this activity. Although OregonLaws.org doesn’t specifically address the hunting of the nonliving, ghost hunters might want to do their research before venturing into the state. Otherwise, they could face misdemeanor charges.
You can’t run a psychic shop in Pennsylvania without risking criminal charges. Of course, you would predict any trouble beforehand, being a psychic.
According to Pennsylvania legislation, telling people the future, suggesting they change their wills or revealing where money is hidden is a third-degree misdemeanor. Expect to pay a fine of up to $5,000.
Rhode Island: Racing or Testing the Speed of a Horse on the Highway
Giddy up? Not quite if you want to race that horse on the highway. According to the Rhode Island state government, any person who rides a horse over a public highway for racing purposes might be fined up to $20 or serve jail time.
South Carolina: Making Fake Marriage Proposals
A male in the Palmetto State cannot propose to a woman without meaning it. Doing so would be a misdemeanor under the Offenses Against Morality and Decency Act. Committing such a crime is punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine at the court’s discretion.
South Dakota: Growing Sunflowers
Who would think growing sunflowers is a public annoyance? Well, in Huron, South Dakota, the plant is lumped in with other nuisance weeds. In fact, the law says sunflowers could be deemed dangerous and unhealthy by the city building official. Violators could face a noncompliance fee if they do not destroy the offending flower.
Tennessee: Sharing Netflix Passwords
Are you buddying up on your Netflix or Amazon Prime subscription? Sharing passwords to these and similar entertainment subscriptions is a criminal offense in Tennessee, according to a statute put into law in 2011. You could face hefty fines or jail time, according to USA Today.
Texas: Selling Your Own Eye or Any Other Human Organ or Tissue
In Texas, it’s illegal to buy or sell human organs and tissue — even your own. Some exceptions exist for organs sold due to legitimate and consensual medical purposes. For everyone else, you’re looking at a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to $4,000 or a year in prison.
Utah: Serving Beer From a Keg
Utah has a keg law that prohibits people from possessing beer in containers larger than two liters unless they are licensed beer retailers, according to Utah legislation. Consequently, if you want to serve beer on draft, you’ll have to obtain a temporary permit for the sale and service of beer. The permit will cost you $100.
Vermont: Selling or Possessing a Powdered Alcohol Product
Vermont takes powdered alcohol very seriously. This substance, when mixed with water, turns into an alcoholic drink, but it can also be added to food. Anyone who possesses a powdered alcohol product can be fined up to $500. If you’re caught selling, you’re looking at a fine of up to $10,000 and/or two years in jail.
Virginia: Having Unmarried Sex
Virginia is the state for lovers — or is it? Unmarried individuals who voluntarily have sexual intercourse are guilty of fornication, punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor, according to Virginia Decoded.
Washington: Killing Bigfoot (Sasquatch) in Skamania County
If you have a run-in with Bigfoot, don’t kill him. The ape-like creature, who also goes by “Sasquatch” and “Yeti,” is known to occasionally pop up in Skamania County. If you knowingly kill him, you could be looking at jail time and up to a $10,000 fine.
West Virginia: Hunting Animals With a Ferret
West Virginia takes its hunting laws seriously. One of the stipulations is not to hunt other animals with the use of a ferret, according to West Virginia legislation. Doing so could cost you at least $100 in fines. You’re also banned from fishing with anything other than a rod, so avoid nose-diving or scooping up fish with your hands.
Wisconsin: Selling or Possessing Illegal Butter
It wasn’t until 2017 that a law that prohibited the sale of home-baked goods was overturned. But the dairy capital still follows old protocol when it comes to butter.
The law from the 1970s requires all butter sold in the state to be tested by experts and graded for quality. So, many residents are crossing state lines to purchase the popular Irish butter Kerrygold. Get caught selling locally, and you could face jail time or a $1,000 fine, The Blaze reported.
Wyoming: Entering a Mine While Drunk
Mining and drunkenness do not go hand in hand in Wyoming, as it’s considered a Class A misdemeanor to enter a mine intoxicated, according to Wyoming legislation.
The law also states that you cannot enter machine shops, logging camps or sawmills while under the influence.
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Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.
Disclaimer: The information in this article should not be taken as legal advice. Information about all laws and penalties were sourced from various government websites, news reports and legal publishers (i.e., Municode). For the most up-to-date information, please consult a legal expert.