More often than not, lawmakers usually have the best interest of their constituents in mind when they set new rules and regulations. However, by living in the good ol’ U-S of A, we are also very familiar with how misguided and ludicrous some of these laws have become. For example, back in the day in the state of Illinois, a male’s female companion had to refer to him as “master” while the two were out in public.
Of course that was probably made with best of intentions given the time period, but the world we lived in has changed quite a bit since then. Looking through the pages of law books is boring, but you occasionally run across a couple of golden nuggets that make you go “WTF?!” Here are 10 of the wackiest laws that are currently still in effect throughout the United States.
10. One may not dismantle a rock in a state park — Colorado
Now, it should be no surprise that the folks in Colorado take the state’s nature very seriously. Since 1973, the state legislature has made it very clear that when roaming about the countryside, you need to respect mother nature’s majesty. Under sections 25-13-105, the law states that it is unlawful for a person to wilfully maim, mutilate or disfigure any rocks. Granted, this also goes for trees, shrubs, and flowers, but what the heck; even the mention of rocks in a state statute is a little odd.
9. You may not pump your own gas — New Jersey
If you ever get a chance to drive through New Jersey and you need some gas, you may be in for a little bit of a surprise. In 1949 under the Retail Gasoline Dispensing Safety Act, lawmakers made it illegal for the average Joe to pump his own gas amid safety concerns. Today, the law has plenty of support from New Jerseyans since they appreciate somebody filling up their tank in the blistering cold or pouring rain. There are plenty of people that claim a redaction to the law would save several cents per gallon, albeit at a cost of thousands of jobs at local gas stations.
8. No smartphones or computers in internet cafes — Florida
Sometimes funny things happen when you get a bunch of people gathered around trying to solve the world’s problems. Unfortunately for those that live in the Sunshine State, when lawmakers tried to ban all internet cafes, their efforts fell a little short. To combat internet-gambling, lawmakers set out to ban any system or network of devises that may be used in a game of chance. The poor wording of the document left much to be desired though, as cell phones and computers were then banned from all cafes since there are so many websites that provide quick and easy access to gambling; nice try, Florida!
7. Students may not hold hands at school — Tennessee
With one of the strictest laws in the country, Tennessee gained attention in 2012 for passing the Gateway Sexual Activity Bill, in which it outlawed students holding hands with each other at school. The bill is a very misguided way to try and curb the state’s number of teen pregnancies, calling an end to any “gateways” to sexual activity, which is open to interpretation. The bill also allows parents to sue teachers if they feel the teachers are not doing their part to prevent teen pregnancy.
6. Seat belts save lives, but riding in truck beds is more fun — Hawaii
This is a law that is tough for many to wrap their heads around. We know seat belts save lives, which is why they are required for any passenger within a moving vehicle throughout Hawaii. So why is it legal to ride in the bed of a pickup truck, where there are no safety restraints in place? The law states that you have to be at least 12 years old, so it’s good to see they have the kids in mind. Remember this the next time you want to have a little fun and hang from your buddy’s pickup bed, but you better think twice before you get into a sedan without wearing your seat belt.
5. “Anti-Bloomberg” Law — Mississippi
It should be no surprise that Mississippians are adamantly opposed to anything that tells them what they can and can’t do, including when it comes to regulating food. In a shot at New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed limit on soda and nutritional transparency, Mississippi enacted a law that does not require counties to disclose any nutritional info on products. The rebel pride that comes from the state of Mississippi has given them plenty to be proud of, including owning the top spot as the fattest state in the country, with over 35% of its adult residents reported as obese.
4. Cap guns are illegal — Rhode Island
Even with more states allowing off the ground fireworks to be bought and sold within their state lines, some states just aren’t buying it. In Rhode Island, lawmakers have even gone as far as limiting the sale of cap guns by completing removing them from stores. Under section 11-13-4 of the state’s criminal offenses, it states that “no person shall sell, possess, or discharge within the state any explosive or toy pistol.” In fact, you can’t have anything with blank cartridges in it and even toy canes are illegal, so you better think twice the next time you want to scare your sleeping roommate with a fake gunfire.
3. One drink per person, buddy — Nevada
Nevada may be home base to “sin city” but according to state law, it is unlawful for someone to buy drinks for more than three people at a time. Now, the exact origin of the law isn’t really known, but it probably has something to do with curbing the number of drunk driving incidents, specifically in Clark county. Then again, it has probably also helped out plenty of big shots who wanted to buy the entire bar a round of drinks at 1:30 am. Don’t fret though; Nevada has some of the most lax drinking laws in the country, with alcohol being available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
2. Only the finest butter for prison inmates — Wisconsin
Despite budget cuts and the nationwide overhaul of public food menus, Wisconsin has been firm in making sure inmates only receive butter, no substitutes. The Wisconsin State Legislature dictates that unless there is a doctor’s note, students and inmates will not receive margarine for their meals. Any violations to the oleomargarine law can result in a fine of no less than $100 and no more than $500, including prison time up to three months. The law originated in 1895 and there have been thousands of people to pack margarine into cars and smuggle it into the state, creating an oleo black market. The law was repealed in 1967 for private homes, but any public places still have to use good ol’ fashioned butter.
1. No playing games with the delivery boy — Louisiana
There’s a lot of problems facing the state of Louisiana, but at least they have pizza delivery boys’ backs. In 1990, the state passed a law in which it made ordering goods/services for somebody without their knowledge a punishable offense, unless it is a gift. Basically, as long as you pay for the food you can have it delivered to whomever you want. This helps prevent the delivery person from getting stiffed when they show up with three hot pies for someone who had no idea. The punishment? The offender must make restitution to the victim (the deliverer) and any loss they may have incurred, such as expenses for wasted time and gas.