Obscure Laws in the United States

Some laws, while obscure, make plenty of sense. For example, driving blindfolded should be illegal, right? Thankfully, it is in Alabama. What other laws do you not know about? Here are some that range from practical to practically unbelievable.

The One Rule We’ve All Broken

If you’ve ever shared your Netflix password and you live in Tennessee, you’ve broken the law. No matter where you live, if someone outside of your household is enjoying your streaming service, you’re in violation of Netflix’s terms of service. This means that unless you live in Tennessee, you can’t be sued for sharing your password, but it is prohibited. 

Laws Related to Your Residence

When you drive around your neighborhood, how common is it to see furniture on porches and in front yards? It’s a great way for people to unwind after a long day, watch the kids playing outside, or enjoy a meal. In Colorado, however, it’s illegal to have a couch on the front porch. Actually, the law extends to any upholstered furniture, so if you were hoping to have a plush seat to relax in, you’ll have to opt for traditional patio furniture instead of a living room cast-off.

Be mindful when doing yard work and clearing off your driveway or sidewalk. Yard debris is best sent to a green waste facility or used in your compost bin. It’s tempting to use the leaf blower to send grass clippings and autumn leaves into the street, but it’s illegal in some cities or even the whole state. In fact, leaf blowers themselves are prohibited in California, while it’s against the law to sweep leaves into public streets in states across the country, including Idaho, Kansas, and North Carolina. So, before you clear your yard, check your municipality’s laws regarding debris in the street.

Speaking of lawns, is it illegal to water during a drought? While not a hard-and-fast law, there are often restrictions established by local leaders during times of water scarcity. Some bans, such as those seen in California, prevent homeowners from watering within 48 hours after rainfall because it’s redundant. In 2021, executive orders in Utah requested that residents water no more than three times per week in the Southern region, and just two times per week in the North. Due to the drought faced by the Beehive State, water conservation practices were encouraged.

Laws Related to Food

Do you enjoy a crunchy pickle when you get a sandwich from your favorite restaurant? What is it about a pickle that just hits the spot? Well, if pickles in Connecticut don’t bounce, they’re illegal and cannot be offered for sale. Back in the 1940s, one major indicator that a pickle was worthy of being served to consumers was its amount of bounce; no bounce, no go! Thankfully, most big-city bars and restaurants still have strict food service standards today, even if they’re not in the kitchen bouncing pickles before serving them.

If you’ve ever pulled up to your favorite coffee shop and been frustrated with the parking situation, then you should head to South Berwick, Maine. This state pretty much runs on Dunkin’ (Donuts, that is), so it’s illegal to park within 25 feet of the South Berwick Dunkin’ Donuts on Main Street West. They know fueling up in the morning is important, so they don’t want the streets clogged with customers, preventing the flow of traffic to the coffee and donuts.

Laws of the Road

There are a lot of laws governing the use of vehicles on the road, but one old-fashioned form of transportation, the horse, should also proceed with caution. In Indiana, it’s illegal to ride a horse faster than 10 miles per hour. The average horse can gallop at 27 mph, so it is possible to break this speed limit. There are a lot of personal injury lawyers, like Brad DeBry and associates, who will help you out if you’re involved in a car crash, but their expertise may not extend to horse crashes at high speeds!

Did you know it’s illegal to sit on a public sidewalk in nearly 53% of cities across the nation? It’s also illegal to spit on public sidewalks in some cities, and it’s illegal to step off the sidewalk to cross the street outside of a designated crosswalk. The ban on spitting is to keep the public sidewalks clean and to curb the spread of infectious diseases. Jaywalking, or crossing the road unlawfully, is obviously a safety hazard as well, and a violation can earn you a hefty fine.

Totally Random Laws

Kentucky is a state famous for its horse derby, but did you know it’s also the home of a unique marriage law? In the Bluegrass state, it’s illegal for a woman to marry the same man more than three times. 

Feelin’ hot, hot, hot? Well, you can’t cool off by wearing a sleeveless shirt in a Maryland public park because it violates the policies of such public places. And what about the “No shoes, No Shirt, No Service” signs you see at many businesses? In the 1960s and 70s, some shops didn’t want to serve so-called hippies with bare feet, shirtless torsos, or long hair. While not a federal or state law, businesses were permitted to choose who they would and wouldn’t serve. These regulations are still permitted to this day.

Bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica! If you’re a fan of the popular American TV show “The Office,” then you know Dwight Shrute has a wealth of knowledge on these three subjects. Do you think he knows that it’s illegal to wrestle bears in Missouri? This law, and similar laws in 20 other U.S. states, is an attempt to prevent animal cruelty.

Whether you’re a fan of magic tricks or not, you won’t have to endure coin-in-the-ear sleight of hand in Hawaii. When the islands joined the United States in 1900, this law was enacted because residents were hiding Hawaiian coins in their ears to prevent them from being destroyed.

Some of these outdated laws aren’t strictly enforced, but they stick around because of the amount of time and money it would take to repeal them.

So, you can probably get away with chasing a greased pig in Minnesota or swearing under your breath at a Red Sox game in Massachusetts. You must also keep in mind that it is not just you breaking the law. There’s a good chance that you may get hurt due to someone else’s negligence and not following the law. In that case, you can seek legal assistance from a personal injury attorney and claim fair compensation for your losses. You can see here and learn how they can help you tackle such unfortunate situations.

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