Don’t Mess with Texas Laws!

I thought it’d be fun today to look at some of the laws that are still in effective in my native state of Texas. Some are really fun ones; while others kinda made me scratch my head.  It’s easy to see why they were put on the books a century or two ago, but wonder why they are still there.  The only thing I can figure out is that it gives writers and researchers something to think about. 

Texarkana is a town divided in half, part being in Texas and part in Arkansas. I can only speak about the Texas side, but owners of horses may not ride them at night without tail lights.

In Temple, no one may ride a horse and buggy through the town square; however, they can ride their horse in the saloon. Someone asked on a social site one time if it were physically possible for a horse to climb a couple of stairs and come through a saloon with a rider on his back.  From my own personal experience, as an observer, not as a rider … yes!  Right in the front door and out the back! Maybe the law isn’t enforced, but it makes for a great story.  Also, in Temple, cattle thieves may be hanged on the spot.  I think if one were to check county by county they’d find that law still there for most of Texas.


It’s illegal to milk another person’s cow.

Here are some laws that I found specifically in towns and counties in the Texas Panhandle.

In Borger, you aren’t allowed to throw feather dusters, whips or quirts (riding crop) of any kind; while in Clarendon, it is illegal to dust any public building with a feather duster.

It is against the law in Lefors to take more than three swallows of beer at any time while standing.  So much for standing at the bar and drinking, but if you have a bar stool, it’s okay. The picture is of cowboys standing at the bar in the famous Equity Bar in Old Tascosa.

Down in Austin, wire cutters can not be carried in your pocket. It is still illegal to shoot a buffalo from the second story of a hotel.  This is a law that I think is pretty much self-explanatory … the wire cutters, not shooting buffalo.  I guess you can shoot them from the front stoop, but apparently, a marksman has the advantage if they are on the second floor.

One of my favorite, in Port Arthur obnoxious odors may not be emitted while in an elevator.

We have regulations about flirting, too.

In Abilene, it is illegal to idle or loiter anyplace within the corporate city limits for the purpose of flirting or mashing. Mashing? So you cain’t mash your taters ‘cause it’s considered flirtin’?

While in San Antonio it’s illegal for both sexes to flirt or respond to flirtation using the eyes and/or hands.  As a writer of romance, my mind is going wild!

In Kingsville, there is a law against two pigs doing “you know what” on the city’s airport property.  Shame on you pigs anyway!

In El Paso, churches, hotels, halls of assembly, stores, markets, banking rooms, railroad depots, and saloons are required to provide spittoons “of a kind and number to efficiently contain expectorations into them”.  My mind wouldn’t even let me go there.

It is illegal in Houston to sell Limburger cheese on Sunday.

Now this one’s been around a while. In Mesquite, a town in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, it is illegal for children to have unusual haircuts.  That one could be used today for sure.

I’m gonna leave you with one thought.  While this isn’t a law, when I was growing up we thought it was.  When in Texas if you order a Coke, you better specify whether you want a Dr. Pepper, Root Beer or 7Up, because all soft drinks, or pop and sodas as it’s called in some parts of the country, are referred to as Cokes!

Do you have any quirky laws in your city or state?


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A native Texan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Phyliss Miranda still believes in the Code of the Old West and loves to share her love for antiques, the lost art of quilting, and the Wild West.

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13 thoughts on “Don’t Mess with Texas Laws!”

  1. We have some stupid ones in the UK.
    eg it’s illegal to eat mince pies on Christmas Day.
    Or to be drunk in charge of a cow/horse or goat in Scotland. Or to flag down a taxi if you have the plague.
    Or to wear a suit of armour in parliament.
    There is even a special law (1988) making it illegal to cause a nuclear explosion.
    Putting a stamp upside down in an act of treason.
    But… In the city of York it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow

  2. Funny post, Phyliss! Thanks for the giggle this morning. My writer’s mind is chasing some rabbit trails right now. I’m thinking about having a future heroine dust the courthouse with a feather duster. Why? Well…why not? By the way, we here in Savannah, GA still ask for a coke then answer more specifically when the waitress asks, “What kind?” 😉

  3. Wow! I’ve lived here for most of my life and I’ve never heard of some of these. I’m sure I’ve probably broken the flirting and mashing law in Abilene since I lived there for some time. And I didn’t even know how close I came to getting arrested. LOL! I can’t believe it’s illegal to dust with a feather duster. Good grief. Too funny! Thanks for such an entertaining blog. I loved it.

  4. Hi Clare, thanks for stopping by. I love some of your laws. My daddy would have had a conniption fit if he couldn’t have mince meat pie for Christmas. When I was younger, I always put stamps upside down to say “I love you”. Didn’t know I was breaking a law. LOL And, if I come to York, I’ll be very aware of a Scotsman carrying a bow and arrow. Thanks for your wonderful contributions today. Have a great one. Hugs, Phyliss

  5. Jean, thanks for sharing and tweeting. I’m with you on the suit of armor … wouldn’t it be hard to sit through a whole government session? Guess you could put your suit of armor on Ebay or Craig’s List! Hope you have a wonderful day. Hugs, Phyliss

  6. Renee, you made me laugh. I thought the same thing, but right now I’m writing contemporaries, but could still use a law that’s still on the books, if someone wanted to press the issue. But you have dibs on the use of the feather duster! LOL I’m glad you all still call all soft drinks Cokes, too! True southern ladies. Big hugs, Phyliss

  7. Love this Phyllis, Several years ago I did research on this subject. One of the laws was that in Texas, an establishment has to have a hitching post in front of the building. The wire cutters, since I worked in law enforcement at the time were sitting in the front seat of my pickup while I was at work. I was lucky the officers didn’t know I was breaking the law!

  8. Phyliss, I love these! What a laugh.

    I live in California and there are no shortage of dumb laws.
    For one, you can’t lick toads, but I think kissing frogs is allowed.

    Then there’s this: when robbing a bank, shooting at a teller with a water pistol is prohibited.

  9. Linda, my friend. I know you’ve never done anything close to breaking a law … know you too well, but guess you never figured using a feather duster could have ended you up in the hoosegow! Much love, P

    Hi Karen, glad you stopped by. I bet you’ll find a dumb law in your state. I guess they all have them.

    Hi my friend Stephy. I think I knew about the hitching post law, but wasn’t sure it was all over Texas. Too funny. I don’t know if you know it or not but at one of the United Supermarkets down in Lubbock, they installed a hitching post. It made national news. I’ve known about the wire cutters for years, and think it’s a state law, but bet a law enforcer might well be exempt. Of course, it’s only in their back pocket that makes it against the law. LOL

    You ladies have a wonderful afternoon. We’re fixin’ to have a little storm, so I might well have to log off my computer for a while, but promise to get back to the rest of you later if at all possible.

    Big hugs to all you all, Phyliss

    PS: This is my second attempt. Got hit and my internet went out for a while. I’ll try to get this posted and back to you if possible. Love to all, P

  10. Very late to the post, but I enjoyed it. One really has to wonder why/how some of these laws came to be passed. No feather duster use? Not allowing pigs to do what comes naturally – how are they supposed to know anyway?) The three swallows of beer doesn’t make much sense, but then again, any of the others.

    I wonder how many law enforcement officers even know most of these odd and outdated laws.

    Thanks for the smile. We’ll have to be careful when we drive through the Texas Panhandle next month. Never know what laws we could be breaking. We won’t be going near Abilene, but will make sure our 15 year old grandson doesn’t loiter, flirt, or mash just in case.

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