You can probably think of a few laws off the top of your head. There’s the U.S. Constitution, all the way down to the 27th amendment. There’s the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Of course, state laws carry all sorts of standard prohibitions against murder, theft, and so on, so forth. Then there’s the weird stuff–the laws that make you go what’s the story behind this?
Here are the 10 weirdest laws in the United States.
10. New Jersey: It is illegal to wear a bullet-proof vest while committing a murder
New Jersey prohibits the use of bulletproof vests “while engaged in the commission of, or an attempt to commit, or flight after committing or attempting to commit” a crime from a specified list. These are murder, manslaughter, robbery, sexual assault, burglary, kidnaping, criminal escape and assault.
This is a third degree crime in NJ, but it will get bumped up to second-degree, if you do it during a first-degree crime (eg. murder).
So, basically, don’t kill anybody in Atlantic City if you’re wearing a bulletproof vest. You wouldn’t want to break the law while breaking the law, would you?
9. Indiana: It is illegal to sniff glue
This one relies on intent. You’re breaking the law if you do it to get high. The substances in question include what the law calls “model glue,” or a substance that contains toluene (found in paint thinners), acetone (nail polish remover), and freon (air conditioning systems).
This is a class B misdemeanor.
8. Wisconsin makes it hard for margarine.
You might have gathered that Wisconsin is dairy central in the United States. But maybe you didn’t realize how sharp elbowed they are about their butter.
97.18(4) of the state code goes like this, “The serving of colored oleomargarine or margarine at a public eating place as a substitute for table butter is prohibited unless it is ordered by the customer.”
That’s right. In Wisconsin, it’s illegal to serve margarine at restaurants unless customers explicitly ask for it. We’re not kidding. Neither is the law: violators face up to $500 fines, and 3 months behind bars. Subsequent offenses can get you up to a $1000 fine and a year in jail.
7. In Tenneesee, you can’t duel anyone if you want to run for public office
You know a prohibition is serious when it’s in a constitution. Under Tennessee’s governing charter, you cannot run for office if you engage in a duel.
Here’s how Article 9, Section 3 puts it:
Any person who shall, after the adoption of this Constitution, fight a duel, or knowingly be the bearer of a challenge to fight a duel, or send or accept a challenge
for that purpose, or be an aider or abettor in fighting a duel, shall be deprived of the right to hold any office of honor or profit in this state, and shall be punished otherwise, in such manner as the Legislature may prescribe.
6. Oregon: Hunting in cemeteries is illegal
Oregon prohibits hunting in cemeteries, and treats it as a misdemeanor. Hunting under state law is defined as taking or attempting to take “any wildlife by means involving the use of a weapon or with the assistance of any mammal or bird.”
5. South Carolina prohibits minors from playing pinball
Are you under 18 in the Palmetto state? Sorry, but you can’t practice to be a pinball wizard..
4. Washington State: It’s illegal to kill Bigfoot
Actually, Skamania County declared its boundaries to be a refuge. Killing the beast is considered homicide if the local coroner declares this victim a hominid.
3. Louisiana: It is illegal to send a surprise pizza
Surprise pizza sounds fun, but not if you’re stuck with an unsuspected bill. In the Bayou State, you can’t call in a good or service make to another person if that person victim did not authorize it, does not live with you, the item is not a gift, the victim is required to pay for it, and if you’re trying to “harass or annoy” this individual.
2. West Virginia: It is legal to take road kill home for dinner
The West Virginia legislature doesn’t believe in waste. Here’s how §20-2-4(e) phrases it:
Wildlife, except protected birds, elk, spotted fawn and bear cubs, killed or mortally wounded as a result of being accidentally or inadvertently struck by a motor vehicle may be lawfully possessed if the possessor of the wildlife provides notice of the claim within twelve hours to a relevant law-enforcement agency and obtains a nonhunting game tag within twenty-four hours of possession.
1. Florida: It is illegal to have sex with a porcupine
Former U.S. Senate candidate Bobbie Bean actually wanted to take this off the books.
“With a ridiculous law like that, you have to think of all the lobbyists and all the time that it took in Tallahassee to put it on the books,” he told The Miami New Times in a 2010 interview. “It’s foolishness.”
Did we miss a weird law? Let us know in the comments.