- There are plenty of urban legends and fake state laws circulating around the internet.
- However, these weird or outlandish laws are actually on the books, whether they’re enforced or not.
- It’s illegal to carry away or collect seaweed at night in New Hampshire.
- In Alaska, a person cannot get drunk in a bar and remain on the premises.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
We’ve all heard urban legends and rumors about absurd laws in America, but you can’t believe everything you read on the internet.
Sites like dumblaws.com – which rarely link to states’ current statutes or may misinterpret them – only perpetuate the myths. Yes, it’s illegal for a drunk person to enter a bar in Alaska. No, a woman’s hair does not legally belong to her husband in Michigan. The list goes on.
We decided to undertake some legal legwork and identify the strangest statute still on the books in each state. You might find you’re guilty of one or two violations.
A previous version of this article was co-authored by Christina Sterbenz.
ALABAMA: The City of Mobile may know how to throw down on Mardi Gras, but the use of plastic confetti is strictly prohibited.
To carry, manufacture, sell, or handle any non-biodegradable, plastic-based confetti is unlawful, according to Municode Library.
ALASKA: A person cannot get drunk in a bar and remain on the premises.
According to Alaska State Legislature, the statute says an intoxicated person may not "knowingly" enter or camp out where alcohol is sold.
In 2012, police in Anchorage, Alaska, started enforcing the law by sending plainclothes officers into bars to identify excessively drunk people and arrest suspects, according to ABC News.
ARIZONA: No one can feed garbage to pigs without first obtaining a permit.
However, you can swap out the trough for a wastebasket if the swine are raised for your own consumption, according to Arizona State Legislature.
ARKANSAS: A pinball machine can't give away more than 25 free games to a player who keeps winning.
The statute aims to prohibit machines that encourage gambling, according to the Arkansas State Legislature.
CALIFORNIA: A frog that dies during a frog-jumping contest cannot be eaten and must be "destroyed" as soon as possible.
This health code likely made its way into the books to protect competitors at the Calaveras County Fair and Frog Jumping Jubilee, a decades-old tradition in the gold-mining town of Angels Camp. Tourists and jockeys compete to see how far their frogs can leap.
COLORADO: You have to get a permit to modify the weather.
In some states, it's legal to perform activities that create changes in the composition or behavior of the atmosphere. However, not in Colorado without a permit.
Weather modification is not only possible, but it's actually a lucrative business. Colorado ski resorts pay private companies to burn silver iodide on the slopes. The material carries into the clouds and stimulates precipitation, which creates a fresh sheet of powder for skiers.
Requiring a permit ensures minimal harm to the land and maximum benefit to the people.
CONNECTICUT: Junk collectors may be out of luck in this state.
In Hartford, it's illegal to collect "rags, paper, glass, old metal, junk, cinders or other waste matter in the city" without a license, according to Municode.
DELAWARE: It's a misdemeanor to sell, barter, or offer the fur of a domestic dog or cat.
Any products made in whole or in part from the hair - say, a coat made of 101 dalmatians - may result in a fine of $2,500 and a ban on owning a dog or cat for 15 years after conviction, according to the State of Delaware.
FLORIDA: People who own bars, restaurants, and other places where liquor is sold may be fined up to $1,000 if they participate in or permit any contest of "dwarf-tossing."
GEORGIA: Those engaged in llama-related activities, such as riding, training, or goofing around at a county fair, are responsible for any personal injuries they suffer.
The Georgia Department of Agriculture law protects llama owners from liability in the event of harm or death with few exceptions. Someone may pursue legal action if they were simply watching from an authorized area.
HAWAII: Billboards have no place in paradise. They're outlawed in the state with few exceptions, including notices from public offices and signs posted where goods are sold.
The "urban beautification" initiative dates back to 1927 when an all-white circle of Hawaii's power wives created the Outdoor Circle Club and lobbied for the ban on outdoor ads.
IDAHO: Cannibalism is strictly prohibited and punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
However, the law is allowed under "life-threatening conditions as the only apparent means of survival," according to the Idaho State Legislature.
ILLINOIS: Urban legend says it's a crime in Illinois to possess more than $600 worth of salamanders.
That's 75-plus salamanders, according to fair market value.
In reality, it's illegal under Illinois law to possess any variety of aquatic life that was captured or killed in violation of the Fish and Aquatic Life Code or whose value exceeds $600, according to the Illinois General Assembly.
INDIANA: Liquor stores can't sell refrigerated water or soda.
The law specifies that a beer and wine store should be in the exclusive business of selling adult beverages and that any water or soda sold needs to be room temperature, according to Find Law.
IOWA: Anyone trying to pass off margarine as real butter is guilty of a misdemeanor under food-labeling laws in Iowa.
KANSAS: There's no place like home to get tipsy. It's illegal to sell liquor by the glass in over 25 counties across Kansas, which repealed prohibition a full 15 years after Congress.
In Kansas, individual counties may by resolution or petition prohibit the sale of alcohol in public places where 30% or less of their gross revenue comes from the sale of food, according to Kansas State Legislature and TIME.
KENTUCKY: Every legislator, public officer, and lawyer must take an oath stating that they have not fought a duel with deadly weapons.
When it entered the Kentucky Constitution in 1849, the law was meant to deter men who might aspire to public office from participating in the once rampant Southern tradition. Some evidence suggests that trial by combat might technically be legal on a federal level even today.
LOUISIANA: Jambalaya prepared in "the traditional manner" is not subject to state sanitary code.
According to Louisiana State Legislature, the Creole stir-fry, made with rice, meat, and veggies, may be prepared for public consumption in the open using iron pots and wood fires.
MAINE: A game of chance called Beano (like Bingo) is regulated here.
The law says that a person may assist players by playing their cards while they take a bathroom break, according to Maine State Legislature. This allowance does not apply in high-stakes Beano, which, apparently, is also a thing.
MARYLAND: Fortune telling is illegal in Maryland.
Anyone "pretending to forecast or foretell the future of another by cards, palm reading or any other scheme, practice or device" can be found guilty of a misdemeanor and fined up to $500, or even serve time in jail, according to Maryland State Legislature.
MASSACHUSETTS: Whether you're at Gillette Stadium or Fenway Park, you'll never hear just half of the "Star-Spangled Banner."
Singing or playing only part of the national anthem or remixing it as dance music is punishable by a fine of not more than $100, according to Massachusetts State Legislature.
MICHIGAN: A statute on the books since 1931 makes adultery a felony in this state.
According to the Michigan State Legislature, breaking this law is punishable by a maximum sentence of four years in prison and possibly a $5,000 fine.
In 2012, a Portage police sergeant was fired for on-the-job misconduct after allegedly cheating on his wife and furthering a relationship with a local waitress using a city-issued cellphone. The man was neither fined nor imprisoned, suggesting Michigan doesn't take the law too seriously.
MINNESOTA: Any contest in which participants try to capture a greased or oiled pig is illegal.
The same laws also prohibit turkey scrambles, according to the Minnesota State Legislature.
MISSISSIPPI: In 2010, profanity in public could land a person in jail for up to 30 days.
However, while it's no longer officially illegal for anyone to use vulgar or obscene language in the presence of two or more people, people still can't display obscene stickers, paintings, decals, or emblems in public on motor vehicles or clothing.
MISSOURI: If a bull or ram over the age of one year runs rampant for more than three days, any person may castrate the animal without assuming liability for damage.
Three town residents must attest in writing that the animal is loose, and its owner must fail to reclaim or confine the beast after notice is given, according to Missouri State Legislature.
MONTANA: Driving animals onto a railroad track with intent to injure the train can result in a fine.
The fine can be up to $50,000. Breaking this law can also result in a stay at the state prison not exceeding five years and other damages, according to the Montana State Legislature.
NEBRASKA: No person who is afflicted with a sexually transmitted disease can marry.
While it's nearly impossible to enforce this law, and no blood test or medical history is required to get a marriage license, this health code could have prevented marital bliss for more than 9,700 Nebraskans who reported cases of chlamydia or gonorrhea to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services in 2015.
NEVADA: Using an X-ray machine to determine a person's shoe size could get you in trouble in this state.
A device called a shoe-fitting fluoroscope, also known as a pedoscope or foot-o-scope, could expose the patient to radiation. Someone found using the device is guilty of a misdemeanor, according to the Nevada State Legislature.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: It's illegal to carry away or collect seaweed at night.
Though this New Hampshire law might seem strange, marine plants and algae are routinely used to make fertilizer and animal feed, which gives it value.
NEW JERSEY: A person wearing a bullet-proof vest while carrying out a grave criminal act can be charged separately for suiting up. The practical effect is more jail and fines.
NEW MEXICO: For many years, "idiots" could not vote in most elections. The word was historically used to describe someone mentally disabled or with an IQ below 30.
In 2016, the state Supreme Court scrapped the archaic law from the books, effectively dismantling this ridiculous law, according to Sante Fe New Mexican.
NEW YORK: The Empire State bans "being masked or in any manner" disguised in public with other people dressed in the same getup.
The law has obviously been partly overturned as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and encouragement from health and legislative officials to wear masks and face coverings in public.
NORTH CAROLINA: A bingo game being conducted or sponsored by a commercial organization may not last more than five hours.
However, according to the North Carolina State Legislature, non-profit groups can go wild.
NORTH DAKOTA: All members of North Dakota's Dry Pea and Lentil Council must be citizens.
The organization was created in 1997 to promote certain agricultural industries, according to the State Historical Society of North Dakota.
A national version of the Dry Pea and Lentil Council also exists. But North Dakota obviously decided it needed a more state-focused group for celebrating chickpeas, lentils, and lupins.
OHIO: Every operator of an underground coal mine must provide an "adequate supply" of toilet paper with each toilet.
This law clearly makes sense, but the fact that it exists at all raises some questions about basic human decency - and Ohio.
OKLAHOMA: McCarthyism is alive and well. A state statute still on the books says it is a "fact that there exists an international Communist conspiracy" committed to overthrowing the US government.
"Such a conspiracy constitutes a clear and present danger to the government of the United States and of this state," the statute continues.
OREGON: Leaving a container of urine or fecal matter on the side of the road is a Class A misdemeanor.
According to the Oregon State Legislature, you can't throw it from the vehicle either.
PENNSYLVANIA: Human trafficking, in general, violates too many international laws to count, but Pennsylvania felt the need to specify under the law that you can't barter a baby.
But if you do find yourself swapping goods or services for your precious bundle, it's only a misdemeanor, which is usually punished less harshly than felonies, according to the Pennsylvania State Legislature.
RHODE ISLAND: Someone who bites off another person's limb will face no more than 20 years in prison but no less than one.
The law only applies if they maimed the victim on purpose, according to the Rhode Island State Legislature.
SOUTH CAROLINA: A male over the age of 16 can't seduce a woman by falsely promising to marry her. However, no law exists with the gender roles reversed.
If found guilty, the man will be charged with a misdemeanor, fined at the court's discretion, and possibly imprisoned for no more than one year - with a number of exceptions, according to the South Carolina State Legislature.
SOUTH DAKOTA: Liquor stores can't sell alcoholic candy containing more than .5% alcohol by weight.
According to one South Dakota law, liquor stores cannot sell candy containing more than .5% alcohol by weight.
Considering Kahlua alcoholic chocolates are around 4%, we can assume they won't be hitting the shelves any time soon.
TENNESSEE: You can't hunt, trap, or harm an albino deer intentionally.
If you do, the fish and wildlife commission will charge you with a Class A misdemeanor, according to Justia.
TEXAS: People wishing to run for office must acknowledge the "Supreme Being." If not, they could be subjected to religious tests.
In other words, the law implies that no atheists are allowed to run.
UTAH: No one may hurl a missile at a bus or bus terminal — except "peace officers" and security personnel.
Anyone outside those positions is guilty of a third-degree felony, according to the Utah State Legislature.
VERMONT: The legislature created a law that prohibits outlawing solar collectors and clotheslines, listing both items as "energy devices based on renewable resources."
This law still technically appears in Vermont State Legislature.
VIRGINIA: An odd law still on the books suggests Virginia is for prudes, not lovers.
"Fornication" or sex is completed banned, except for married couples. It's still technically punishable as a misdemeanor, according to Virginia State Legislature.
WASHINGTON: Doors to nearly all public buildings must open outwardly.
WEST VIRGINIA: Don't attempt to substitute a hunting dog for a ferret in West Virginia.
Anyone who hunts, catches, takes, kills, injures, or pursues a wild animal or bird with a ferret will face a fine of no less than $100 (but no more than $500) and up to 100 days in jail, according to West Virginia State Legislature.
WISCONSIN: In America's Dairyland, many different kinds of state-certified cheeses, like Muenster, cheddar, Colby, and Monterey Jack, must be "highly pleasing."
According to the Wisconsin State Legislature, non-tasty cheese is technically punishable by law.
WYOMING: It's reportedly illegal to "cut, sever, detach, or mutilate" more than one-half of a sheep's ear.
According to Wyoming State Legislature, violations are felony offenses punishable by up to five years in prison. However, less than one-half is totally fine.