Bizarre Things You Can't Do in America

Let's explore 20 of the strangest laws in America!


Every country has one or two weird laws that seem to make absolutely no sense. But the USA has way more than its fair share. This is, in part, due to the US's federal system, which gives local governments more power to dictate their own legislation. The sad fact is that many archaic laws exist because of the personal views and experiences of lawyers and politicians.

Often, they were simply written to control the general public back when they relied heavily on laws to dictate their behavior. Some of these rules concern public safety and decency and probably made a lot of sense when they were written. But others probably never made sense. So here are 20 bizarre things you can't do in America.

20. Underwater Whistling in Vermont

Vermont has a number of bonkers laws, but the silliest one by far is that it’s illegal to whistle underwater.

Bizarre Things You Can't Do in America Underwater whistling in Vermont

The reason for this rule is to protect marine life, as whistling near marine mammals such as dolphins or whales can interfere with their echolocation, leaving them stranded. This makes it extra bizarre, since Vermont is a landlocked state – so why they need this law is a mystery.

Whistling needs air both inside and outside of your mouth so common sense would tell you that it’s impossible to do it anyway.

Bizarre Things You Can't Do in America Underwater whistling in Vermont

19. Police Can Bite Dogs in Ohio

In Paulding, Ohio, police have a strange and special power that cops in other parts of the US aren’t lucky enough to have. They are allowed to bite a dog if they think it will calm the dog down.

Bizarre Things You Can't Do in America Police can bite dogs in Ohio

It’s unclear where this law originates from, and there doesn’t seem to be any examples of police officers taking advantage of this rule. And why would they? I can’t see how biting a dog would do anything but further enrage it.

18. Bear Wrestling in Alabama

In May 1996, the Alabama Senate voted 23-0 to make it illegal to conduct bear wrestling matches for profit. It also became a class B felony to surgically alter a bear or to train it to wrestle.

Bizarre Things You Can't Do in America

This might sound like a stupid law, but bear wrestling used to be a surprisingly popular pastime all across the U.S. which is why it was introduced. The guy in the video below took on a bear at the 1972 Iowa State fair, and in 1987 Ginger the bear took on several Mississippi residents.

Watch on YouTube

17. No Nukes in California

According to Section 9.60.030 of Chico’s Municipal Code, it’s illegal to build or test nuclear bombs in the city. The ruling declares that the threat of a nuclear war that nobody would survive is “unacceptable”, and states that “no person shall produce, test, maintain, or store within the city a nuclear weapon, component of a nuclear weapon, nuclear weapon delivery system, or component of a nuclear weapon delivery system.”

Bizarre Things You Can't Do in America No nukes in California

There’s no mention of what would happen if you exploded a nuke, or what the punishment would be, but $500 is the limit for any city infraction. A $500 fine would be the least of everyone’s worries if someone had a nuclear bomb. And besides, who’s going to collect the fine if we’re all fried?

16. Mustache Kissing in Iowa

Bad luck, hipsters, if you have a mustache you’re not allowed to kiss a woman in public in Iowa.

Bizarre Things You Can't Do in America Mustache kissing in Iowa

According to dumblaws dot com, it’s also illegal for a kiss to last longer than five minutes in Iowa, so it might not be the best pick for honeymooners. There are some doubts over the existence of this law, but I for one won’t be risking a smooch in Iowa any time soon.

15. Don’t Poach Sasquatch in Washington State

Whether or not Sasquatch even exists is a debate that’s raged on for over 200 years, but Washington State isn’t taking any chances. Just in case the mythical beast does exist, they’ve introduced a law which prohibits the poaching of it.

Bizarre Things You Can't Do in America Don’t poach Sasquatch in Washington State

In 1991, Whatcom County declared its land to be an official Sasquatch protection and refuge area. The reasoning is that if Sasquatch does exist, it’s an endangered species that needs protecting. And, it’s because of this twisted logic that Skamania County has listed Bigfoot poaching as a felony since 1969.

14. No Burping in Church in Nebraska

Nebraskan lawmakers take the sanctity of the church seriously, and unruly children will not be tolerated. So much so, in fact, that if one is caught burping, their parents could easily be carted off to jail.

Bizarre Things You Can't Do in America Don’t poach Sasquatch in Washington State

The law also prohibits sneezing, which seems a little unfair as it’s a totally uncontrollable bodily function. It’s also illegal to hunt whales in Nebraska which might seem like a sensible rule until you consider that it’s a land-locked state, that doesn’t even have a single whale in captivity…

13. No Ugly Faces at Dogs in Oklahoma

I’m a huge fan of dogs, but Oklahoma lawmakers might just take the crown for being the number one canine fans after they introduced a silly rule to protect dogs’ feelings. People who make “ugly” faces at dogs can be fined, jailed, or both.

Bizarre Things You Can't Do in America

The rule doesn’t say what happens if you simply have an ugly face and get caught looking at a dog. I can only imagine that a politician’s dog was personally offended by an ugly face at some point in history to make this laughable rule a reality.

12. No Fishing on a Camel in Idaho

Another animal protection law now – and this one’s taking care of not one but all species at once. In Boise, Idaho it is prohibited to fish while you’re on any animal's back – and that includes camels. This probably ruins your weekend plans, but laws are laws.

Bizarre Things You Can't Do in America No fishing on a camel in Idaho

The 1917 ruling actually made it illegal to fish from the back of any animal, and a 1920 Fish and Game rule later stated that “it is unlawful to fish for trout from the back of any animal, or to travel up or down any stream on back of animal while fishing for trout." Consider yourself warned fishing fans.

11. Squeaky Clean in Arizona

Remember your parents telling you that they’d wash your mouth out with soap and water if they caught you swearing? Well, maybe that’s where Mohave County in Arizona got the idea for their bizarre soap rule.

Bizarre Things You Can't Do in America stealing soap Arizona

If you’re found stealing soap there, you must wash yourself until the bar of soap has been completely used up. I suppose it's what you’d be doing anyway if you picked up the soap in prison.

10. New York Ice Cream Rules

Watch yourself on a Sunday in New York: this state has a law stating that you may not walk around with an ice cream cone in your pocket on the day of rest.

Bizarre Things You Can't Do in America New York ice cream rules

Why anybody would stuff an ice cream cone into their pocket is beyond me, but it must have been a big enough issue to write legislation to combat the issue. According to some sources, it might have been the cone law that led to the creation of the ice cream sundae.

9. No Crossing into Minnesota Wearing Poultry

If you were considering wearing a chicken or a duck as a headdress while crossing into Minnesota, think again! According to dumblaws dot com it’s completely illegal and could land you in deep trouble.

Bizarre Things You Can't Do in America Minnesota wearing poultry

The validity of this regulation is debated but animal rights laws surely prohibit the use of live animals for fashion accessories, so you’d better not do it just to be on the safe side.

8. Sunshine is Guaranteed in California

Florida may be known as the Sunshine State, but it’s actually California that deserves that title. A local San Francisco law states that sunshine is guaranteed for the masses.

According to lawinfo dot com, it’s unclear whether this was taken from a foundational document, another similar statute, or planning laws, or whether it exists at all. But one thing’s for sure: landowners are entitled to maintain their access to air, water, and light.

Bizarre Things You Can't Do in America Sunshine is guaranteed in California

7. The Death Penalty for New York Jumpers

Sadly, the main reason a person would jump off a building is to end their life, but New York lawmakers seem to have overlooked that fact. It’s said that the punishment for jumping off a building in this state is death, but that seems like overkill.

This law seems to be related to the illegality of suicide, as ending your own life was illegal in 30 US states as late as the 1980s.

Bizarre Things You Can't Do in America death penalty for New York jumpers

6. Don’t Look at a Moose in Alaska

Bizarre Things You Can't Do in America Don’t look at a moose in Alaska

In Alaska, you can look at a moose, just not if you’re in a plane. The law actually states that you can’t fly in a plane the same day that you hunt. This is to stop you from scouting for an animal before landing the plane to find it and shoot it, which actually makes a fair bit of sense.

Shame Alaska ruined it for themselves by creating another bonkers law – according to legislation you cannot bring your pet flamingo into a barbershop. It’s actually all animals that are banned from barber shops, and they’re also not allowed into any establishment “for the practice of hairdressing or beauty culture.”

Bizarre Things You Can't Do in America pet flamingo into a barbershop

5. Fried Chicken Faux Pas in Georgia

It’s no secret that the southern states take their fried chicken seriously, and one visitor fell foul of this when she was arrested on her 91st birthday for breaking a poultry law. Ginny Dietrick was busted eating fried chicken with a fork.

Bizarre Things You Can't Do in America eating Fried chicken with fork Georgia

According to an ordinance passed in Gainesville, Georgia in 1961, it’s a crime against the city to eat fried chicken, “a culinary delicacy sacred to this municipality, this county, this state, the Southland and this republic,” with anything other than your fingers.

The ordinance was originally introduced as a publicity stunt to promote Gainesville as the poultry capital of the word, but some cops are clearly upholding the ruling.

4. Don’t Let the Chicken Cross the Road in Georgia

Bizarre Things You Can't Do in America chicken cross the road in Georgia

Why did the chicken cross the road? Well, in Georgia, it may have been to make a political statement because it’s illegal for them to do so, seriously. The town of Quitman has a local ordinance that makes it illegal to allow chickens to cross an open road. This is purely for the safety of drivers using the roads, but I’m not entirely sure how the law is enforced.

3. Greasy Crimes in North Carolina

As of 2013, it became a felony to steal more than $1,000 worth of grease. Who’s stealing that much grease, or any grease at all, for that matter?

Bizarre Things You Can't Do in America Greasy Crimes in North Carolina

The grease law was part of 16 bills that were passed at the same time, and the others make much more sense, from legal protection for out-of-state doctors to more stringent background checks for people working in daycares.

But what’s with the grease bill? Well, apparently law enforcement officers weren’t taking the crime seriously - what was once a worthless commodity is now apparently worth stealing so something had to be done.

2. No Biting in Rhode Island

Biting off another person’s leg in Rhode Island isn’t allowed. It feels as though that should be a given, no? Well, apparently lawmakers felt the need to write it into their legislation.

Bizarre Things You Can't Do in America bite legs Rhode Island

According to one section of the state’s legal code, there’s a penalty for any person who “shall voluntarily, maliciously or of purpose put out an eye, slit the nose, ear, or lip, or cut off, bite off, or disable any limb or member of another.”

The punishment is between one and 20 years in prison, so no matter how tempted you get, it’s best that you don’t gnaw on anyone’s limbs no matter how irritating you find them.

1. No Sleeping in an Illinois Cheese Factory

We’ve all found ourselves drifting off after too much camembert, but be careful where you catch those post-cheese Z’s as in Illinois it’s against the law to sleep in a cheese factory.

Bizarre Things You Can't Do in America No sleeping in an Illinois cheese factory

According to the Sanitary Food Preparation Act, it’s unlawful to sleep in not only a cheese shop, but also a creamery, bakery, or any other place where food is prepared for sale. I can only imagine the predicament faced by those guys in charge of sampling the produce at the factory. It’s probably for the best though, think of the nightmares they’d have after all that cheese.

I hope you made it to the end of this article without losing total faith in the U.S. legal system! If you were amazed at these crazy American laws, you might want to read this article about things you should never do in other countries. Thanks for reading.

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