Loony Laws Revisited

Hello everyone – Winnie Griggs here.  This past weekend, my local chapter of Romance Writers of America held our annual conference so I’m a bit wiped out from all the prep work leading up to it and the non-stop activity of the event itself. So I hope you’ll excuse me if I reprise an older post. This is one from back in 2009 and I hope you’ll enjoy giving it another look.

I came across a fun little book the other day called “Loony Laws…That You Never Knew You Were Breaking”.  Of course I had to purchase it – how can you pass up a book with a title like that?  And the book did not disappoint.

The book, which has a copyright date of 1990, states that all the laws cited are “still around – unless they’ve been repealed indirectly by blanket or collective legislation.”

Here are just a sampling of the laws cited:

Some fall into the category of impossible to comply with.  For instance, Texas once passed a law that read “When two railroad trains meet at a crossing, each shall stop and neither shall proceed until the other has passed.”

A few fall into the category of bad wording that plants them in the realm of the absurd.  For example, in Belvedere, California, there is an ordinance that states  “No dog shall be in a public place without its master on a leash.”  Just think about that one for a minute!

Some are just plain humorous.

  • In Berea Kentucky horses are prohibited from being out on the streets at night unless the equine has a bright red taillight attached to its rear end.
  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida has a similar ordinance, but has added that the animal must also have a horn attached.

A number of entries fall into the category of attempting to legislate animal behavior:

  • California passed a law that prohibits animals from mating publicly within fifteen hundred feet of any tavern, place of worship or school.  It carries a penalty of five hundred dollars and/or up to six months in prison.
  • In International Falls, Minnesota cats aren’t permitted to chase dogs up utility poles.
  • In Shawnee, Oklahoma, three or more dogs must obtain written permission to congregate together on private property.

  • Oak Park, Illinois prohibits roosters from crowing before six A.M.
  • In Norfolk Virginia, chickens are not allowed to lay eggs between the hours of 4 PM and 8 AM.

One wonders how any of these lawmakers expect to enforce these laws and just who gets penalized if the law is broken.

Then there are those that are obviously from a bygone era:

  • Omaha, Nebraska requires that every home within the city limits have a wooden hitching post in its front yard.
  • The state of Oregon and the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota prohibit the practice of wiping dishes – they must be left to drip dry after washing.
  • Both the state of Virginia and the city of Topeka, Kansas have laws banning the installation of bathtubs in the home.  Tubs can only be kept in the yard or in a public bathhouse erected for that specific purpose.
  • In Clarendon, Texas a lawyer can be disbarred if he refuses to accept farm produce in lieu of payment for his legal fees.
  • In Oxford, Ohio women are forbidden from taking off their clothing while standing in front of a man’s picture.

And finally you have the ones I call ‘head scratchers’, raising questions as to what brought the issue up to start with:

  • Normal Oklahoma has a law that prohibits individuals from making ugly faces at a dog – penalties range from fines to jail time.
  • In Minnesota it is illegal for a woman to try to impersonate Santa Claus on a city street.

  • Saco, Missouri has made it illegal for women to wear hats that “might frighten timid persons, children, or animals.”
  • North Carolina has a law prohibiting the use of elephants to plow a cotton field.

  • In New Orleans it is against the law to kick a garbage can and in Lubbock, Texas you are forbidden to sleep in one. (Good thing Oscar the Grouch doesn’t live there!)
  • Tennessee prohibits the use of a lasso to catch fish

The above are just a sampling of the Looney Laws outlined in this book.

So have you ever run into any strange or outlandish laws you’d care to share?

Winnie Griggs

Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.

Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.

Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at www.facebook.com/WinnieGriggs.Author or email her at winnie@winniegriggs.com.


Updated: March 6, 2017 — 4:02 pm

21 Comments

  1. I hve read some but they are the same ones you have. Amazing and smile inducing.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post

  2. The looney laws are really something! I think I would have loved to be a “fly on the wall” when these laws were made. I can’t imagine people sitting around discussing such!

    1. LOL, wouldn’t that have been a fun meeting to attend!

  3. I have read of some of these. They are bizarre!

  4. That was good for a morning laugh. Those laws are crazy!

    1. Glad to brighten your day 🙂

  5. It is illegal to hunt or shoot camels in Arizona.

    In Key West, Florida, turtle racing is prohibited.

    In Vermont it is illegal to whistle underwater.

    It is illegal in Kentucky to marry the same man more than 3 times.

    1. What fun! Thanks for adding to the list

  6. Nope never came across a crazy law. Or even an old should be outdated law.

    1. Hi Kim, thanks for stopping by.

  7. LOL, these are hilarious! I can’t remember now, but I know there are a couple silly ones for Michigan still on the books. I’ll have to go look them up now. 🙂

    1. I agree about them being hilarious. Just makes you wonder what prompted lawmakers to enact them in the first place. I’ll just bet there are some good ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ stories in there!

  8. Why, oh why??? These are just CRAZY! Thanks for making my morning fun, Winnie!

    1. You’re quite welcome – glad to give you a smile!

  9. Oh, Winnie, what a great post. You had me smiling. I particularly like the one that chickens can’t lay eggs during certain times of the day. As though chickens are going to go to prison if they fail to comply… But then, most chickens live a life in “prison” anyway — cages.

    1. Hi Karen. Those animal ones had me scratching my head too – how in the world did they plan to enforce them????

  10. In Tennessee:
    More than 8 women may not live in the same house because that would constitute a brothel.
    Illegal for a woman to drive a car unless there is a man either running or walking in front of it waving a red flag to warn approaching motorists and pedestrians. (Memphis)
    Ministers are to be dedicated to God and therefore are not eligible to hold a seat in either House of the Legislature.
    It is illegal for a woman to call a man for a date. (Dyersburg)
    An ordinance forbids anyone to sing the song “It Ain’t Goin’ To Rain No Mo’”. (Oneida)
    When you pull up to a stop sign you must fire a gun out the window to warn horse carriages that you are coming. (Lenior County)

    I checked some other states and there are crazy laws everywhere. In the category of who ever would even think to, in Florida it is illegal to have sex with a porcupine.

    1. Hi Patricia. Some of these are so incredible. And that last one – just wow! Thanks for sharing

  11. Wow Winnie! There are some really Looney Laws here. How can you stop a rooster from crowing or dogs congregating together on private property. Crazy. But they made me giggle. Thank you for the post.

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