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You’re woken up by a bang at the door. “Open up! Come out with your hands up!” You can’t believe this is happening. Could you really be in trouble with federal officials...over lunchmeat? You might be surprised. There are a lot of laws on the books in the United States - and some are genuinely bizarre. Here are some of the craziest state and federal US laws that still exist. One thing that all states have in common is laws against drunk driving. It’s illegal in all fifty states to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level above a certain level. Some states expand that to other vehicles like bikes, scooters, and even tractors. But Wyoming adds a unique vehicle to that - skis. Skiing under the influence could get you charged with a misdemeanor and facing up to twenty days in jail. It makes sense - a drunk skier could cause a dangerous crash that could hurt themselves or others - but how often does this happen exactly? Some laws are common-sense - maybe a little too common sense. Have you ever told a friend “I know this route so well, I could find it blindfolded!”? Well, you’re apparently not the only one - because in Alabama, someone might have taken that challenge a little too literally.
The southern state has a law on the books prohibiting driving while your vision is obscured with a blindfold. As it’s unlikely to have happened too often, we’re guessing that the law might as well have been named after the person who inspired it. So when in Alabama, don’t be a Dave - keep your eyes on the road! Another area where a lot of strange laws come into play? Our furry friends. Maybe you have a grandma who loved to knit - and she would use anything she could get her hands on to create a sweater. Well, if she lives in Delaware, there’s one thing you don’t have to worry about her using. It is illegal in the tiny northeastern state to sell dog or cat hair, a Class B misdemeanor to sell any part of a domestic dog or cat. This is no doubt a disappointment to the owner of Persian cats everywhere as they coat the house in a thin layer of hair every shedding season. But there’s nothing stopping her from knitting from her own pet’s sheddings… But this next one might be a little harder to enforce. In the old days in Indiana, it was apparently pretty popular to have high-intensity horse races. These would often take place in public streets, which could be a danger to pedestrians. So the state passed a common-sense law - banning people from riding horses above ten miles
an hour anywhere in the state. There’s just one problem - did anyone tell the horses? They probably don’t know how to read speed limits, and an out-of-control horse could mean a ticket. But with the arrival of cars, that’s probably less of a worry. How fast do they go again? But at least this law protects one animal...maybe? Bigfoot. The most mysterious North American megafauna - or maybe just a guy named Bob in a gorilla suit. Many people believe the missing link exists, and they go into the woods regularly searching for him. But if you’re bigfoot-hunting in Washington state, better make sure that you’re only armed with a camera. Since 1969, the famous cryptid has been legally protected, with shooting a Bigfoot being a felony punishable by five years in prison. And he’s now legally classified as an endangered species. If you see him, let him know. It’s not the only state with some strange hunting regulations. In Virginia, there’s a rich hunting tradition. Sportsmen and those looking to put some game on the menu go out daily to shoot birds and mammals in the woods - except on Sunday. This isn’t uncommon, as many states have regulations preserving Sunday as a day of
rest for religious reasons. But there’s one exception to this no-hunting bill in Virginia. The law bans the shooting of any wild bird or wild animal, including nuisance species on Sundays - with the exception of raccoons. Virginia really went “We hate this one species particularly”. Poor trash pandas. We bet this next law never even crossed your mind. There’s nothing like a frog-jumping competition...right? Okay, not many people know about this sport, which involves seeing how far a frog can jump after startling it. But this can be occasionally dangerous for the frog, and California wants to make sure these heroic athletes get treated well. If a frog is killed or otherwise dies in the competition, it is forbidden to eat it or use the body for any other purpose. Alas, no drowning the sorrows of losing a prize jumping frog with an appetizer of frog legs. Few areas have more strange laws than food. In Connecticut, they take pickles seriously. When legislators were discussing how to check for good-quality pickles - because really, biting into a mushy pickle is pretty disgusting - they passed a law stating that any pickle
sold in the state must be able to bounce when dropped on the floor. This was actually tested in 1948, when two pickle vendors were reported for selling pickles that were unfit for human consumption. Sure enough, their wares didn’t bounce, and they were arrested. But that raises the question of how safe it is to drop pickles on the floor… Did you know you could get arrested...over pizza? We’ve probably all had it happen to us. We hear a knock at the door, and there’s a pizza deliveryman holding a piping-hot pie - but you didn’t order a pizza! Maybe it was a prank, maybe it was a misprint, but now you’re having an awkward argument and you probably want pizza. Well, in Louisiana, sending someone a pizza they didn’t order is actually considered harassment. This applies to intentionally trying to stick someone with a pie, but an accidental address mishap could potentially result in a $500 fine as well. It’s not often that a state bans...banning something In 2013, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was well-known for his health regulations. He banned giant-size sodas and required restaurants to post their calorie counts. Well, in Mississippi they didn’t like that.
So soon afterward, they passed a law nicknamed the Anti-Bloomberg Bill that explicitly banned towns in the state from requiring nutritional information on menus. The law is still in effect eight years later, as Mississippi takes a stand to prevent diners from knowing too much about what goes into that giant plate of barbecue. You wouldn’t think a law would be needed to keep this game from getting rowdy. Ah, Bingo. A nice, relaxing game of chance where the elderly come to win prizes and feel the thrill of victory. It’s all fun and games, at least until Myrtle and Ethel call Bingo a half-second apart and the canes go flying. That’s why in North Carolina, it is illegal to sell or consume any alcoholic beverage in a place where Bingo is being played. And it doesn’t fall under a general rule banning alcohol around games of chance, either - they passed a law specifically about Bingo. What did Myrtle do? But they’re not as strict as their neighbor to the south. South Carolina has a pretty involved juvenile justice code. Don’t want those kids to get out of control, after all. These laws usually don’t carry hefty criminal charges, instead charging the kids with “status
offenses” where they usually get released home to their parents and have to face a judge. Most are common sense, covering things like truancy or curfews. But the law goes out of its way to ban one popular activity - playing pinball. Maybe it was too close to gambling for their tastes, or maybe they just really don’t like the song “Pinball Wizard”, but if you’re a kid in South Carolina, stay away from those flippers. But it’s not the most unusual bit of recreation banned in a US state. In the great state of Louisiana, there are some tough and hardy men. So tough, in fact, that they feel like testing themselves in the sport of bear wrestling. This is exactly what it sounds like - one or more people fighting a bear in a wrestling match. Now, we’re willing to bet that not too many people do this activity twice, but enough people try to take their lives in their hands that the state had to make it a crime to participate in or train a bear for a wrestling match. It carries a penalty of a fine of five hundred dollars and prison time of up to six months - and, we’re betting, a strange look from the judge at sentencing. These are the oddest state laws - but the federal government gets in on the action too.
Are you someone who likes to live on the edge? If you’re planning on skydiving any time soon, you should be able to do it legally - just don’t drink too much before you do it. Sure, it might be tempting to have a few to take the edge off those nerves, but it’s considered a federal crime. Who knows why - after all, what’s the worst that could happen when a drunk person falls from an extreme height and has to remember to pull that parachute in time? We just hate to think about why this law was passed. If you’re a food lover, you might be surprised by just how involved the feds are in your dinner plate. You bite into an onion ring, and somehow this just doesn’t taste right! Looking at it closely, it seems to be missing the “ring” part. The breaded circle is actually filled with diced onions! The restaurant didn’t just commit a culinary faux pas, they may have committed a federal crime - violating a statute that regulates the content of onion rings and requires restaurants to disclose it if they’re using dried or diced onions. We don’t know why the federal government got involved here, but maybe one Congressman had some really bad onion rings. The government takes food seriously - including lunchmeat. Have you ever eaten Turkey Ham?
Wait, how can something be both a turkey and a ham? This popular cold cut is usually a formed, cured loaf of dark meat turkey that looks a little like ham, and the government wants to make sure no one gets confused. That’s why the labeling of this lunch meat is strictly regulated. The words “turkey” and “ham” can’t be in different orders or fonts so that no one will think they’re actually advertising pork or regular turkey. That’s a lot of restrictions for meat most commonly seen as the second of four in a turkey variety pack. But there’s one condiment the government takes even more seriously. Nothing can ruin a sandwich or a pile of fries more than opening a bottle of ketchup - and it’s runny. The government agrees, so they regulate how fast the ketchup will flow out of the bottle before it can be sold. Using an instrument named a Bostwick consistometer, regulators make sure it can’t travel more than fourteen centimeters in thirty seconds. If it exceeds that, it gets labeled substandard. They also regulate the name of the condiment - and any form of ketchup, catsup, or catchup are acceptable. Who calls ketchup catchup?
This next law might disappoint would-be supervillains everywhere. It’s illegal to influence the weather. But it’s also impossible to do that...right? Well, besides singing a song when it rains, the odds are no private citizen can - but during the Vietnam War, the government was studying how to create weather events over enemy lines to disrupt their troops. This was seen by the government as very dangerous, and they did not want that information to come out. So they passed a law making it illegal to modify the weather without notifying the Secretary of Commerce, to the tune of a fine of $10000. So now sci-fi weather machines are only the purview of the government. Yay? You probably never even thought about breaking this next law - we hope. If a horse passes you by on the street and splashes you with mud, you might get a little angry. You might even be tempted to make an angry gesture. But if you do it in the wrong place, that might be a federal crime. It’s illegal to make an “unreasonable gesture” to a passing horse on federal land, which means you can flip that horse the bird all you want on the streets of New York. But what’s an unreasonable gesture is up to interpretation, which is why the federal
government eventually amended the law to make it...not much less vague. Just don’t do anything that isn’t “prudent” when that horse passes. The federal government is very involved with animals - but maybe no more than this next case. Falcons. Why is the federal government so interested in falcons? These smart birds can be trained by talented falconers for hunting, and the government strictly regulates how many falcons a person can own and how they must be treated. But oddly, there’s also regulation on how falconry can be portrayed in the media. Trained birds of prey cannot appear in movies unless it concerns the hobby or relevant issues involving birds of prey. And the handlers cannot be paid for the bird’s role in the film. This has led filmmakers who want to use falcons in their movies to go for a simpler solution - computer-generated birds. For more on weird laws, check out “Crazy Laws That Still Exist Around the World”, or watch this video instead.
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