5 of the Strangest Laws that Can Get You Locked Up in the US

by , 26 Feb 2014

A lot of the craziness in the US legal system comes from laws that were implemented locally or at the state level, and which have never been repealed.

Arrested Man In Chains

Politicians at various levels have often passed laws to pander to the public mood or grab some of the publicity of recent headlines, so there are plenty of outrageous and unusually specific laws in place around the country.

Given the unusually high number of these weird laws in the US, perhaps the readiness of many towns, counties and even states to pass strange laws might be a reflection of the way the country was founded by people who came to the New World with dreams of founding new ways of living, new religions and new systems of governance.

Whatever the reason, there are plenty of places where you could get arrested for the bizarrest of reasons, although it might take a cop with a particular interest in legal history to recognize that what you are doing is actually a crime.

1. You can't take a bath without doctor's orders

Keeping clean is a serious business in many parts of the US. You can't just take a bath whenever you want.

Unless you're ready to risk being arrested for it, you will need to get a prescription from your doctor before you have a bath in Colorado, while in Florida, you will have to keep your clothes on.

You can bathe once a month during the winter if you are in Lander Wyoming, if you're an adult, but children there aren't legally allowed to take baths at all during the cold weather.

2. You can't tie an alligator to a fire hydrant

Some laws really make you wonder about the circumstances that inspired them, and none more so than the law that was apparently written in Michigan to prohibit people from tying alligators to fire hydrants, although the reality is that this crazy law isn‘t actually as specific as it seems.

If you do need to leave your pet alone for a while, you will have to find somewhere else to hitch it, even if it is a lion or a tiger rather than an alligator.

The law is most famously applied to the alligator scenario, but in reality it rather sensibly prohibits any action that might prevent a hydrant being used, either by blocking it or tying an animal to it.

Of course, if you've taken your pet with you to the US then tying them up anywhere unattended is probably a bad idea because it's unlikely to be covered by your pet insurance if they go missing.

3. You can't carry an ice cream cone in your pocket

A law prohibiting the eating of ice cream on Sundays inspired the creation of ice cream sundaes in Ohio, which hid the offending treat under some respectable fruit in order to get around the restrictions, but this isn't the only crazy dessert-based law in the US.

In Lexington, Kentucky, it was apparently thought necessary to outlaw the carrying of ice cream cones in pockets, so think carefully before you decide to free up your hands.

4. You can't kiss a woman if you have a moustache

If you are a man who likes to wear a moustache, you will have to get rid of it before you share a kiss with a woman in Eureka, Nevada, unless you are ready to risk arrest.

Women can risk similar problems with the police in their romantic lives, since it is illegal for a woman to ask a man out over the phone in Tennessee, or to propose marriage to him in Whitesville, Delaware.

5. You can't have criminal intentions without telling the police

If you're driving across the US, planning your next crime, then you might be committing one already if you cross the state border into Washington.

Driving across this boundary while harbouring criminal intentions means that you are coming under the jurisdiction of a law that compels you to pull over when you enter the town where your crime will be committed, phone the chief of police, and tell them that you intend to commit a crime.

Whoever came up with this law either had a great sense of humour or a case of stupidity that could only be exceeded by the criminal mastermind who would fall for it.

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