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Outdated and Unusual Laws

In the United States and internationally, there are numerous laws that are technically still in the books despite being outdated and unusual for modern times. In the United States, rather than having legislature take the time to remove these laws, it’s easier to let them remain in the books, and not enforce them.

Here are some weird laws that can be found in the USA:

  • In New Jersey and Oregon, it is illegal for drivers to pump their own gas. The law was established because state governments were scared to let average drivers handle the flammable material. To this day, in both states, you must let a professional pump your gas. (Sources 12)
  • In the United States, it is illegal to issue or publish a false Weather Bureau forecast or warning. (Source)
  • The official language of Illinois is American, not English. (Source)
  • Some states, including California, Florida, Nevada, Alaska, and Hawaii, a driver can be cited for driving too slowly. (Source)
  • In Mansfield, Louisiana, anyone caught wearing sagging pants that expose underwear will be fined up to $150 plus court costs or 15 days in jail. The law was later overturned and declared unconstitutional. (Source)
  • It’s illegal to play a pinball machine if you are under 18 years old in South Carolina. (Source: Section 63-19-2430)
  • In Tennessee, it is illegal for preachers, atheists and those who participate in duels to hold office. (Source)
  • Colorado water laws ban the use of rain barrels or any other methods to catch rain for use. The claim is that rain has already been legally allocated to the state; individuals are prohibited from capturing and using the rain water because he/she does not have the right to use the water. As of June 2009, the state made it legal for residents to catch and use rainwater. (Source)
  • In New Orleans, the Fire Code outlaws cursing at firefighters while they are performing their duties. (Source: Sec. 74-2)
  • In Indianapolis, it is illegal for a horse to be driven or ridden on any street in the city at more than 10 miles per hour. (Source: Code 1975, 29-5)

These unusual laws have been in state constitutions for decades and made sense back at some point in time. Many of these laws were created after someone conducted one of these strange acts. Legislature then felt the need to ban or avoid odd activity by creating a law prohibiting it. The laws were also put in place to protect the people who live in that city or state. For example, the South Carolina law that prohibits minors from playing pinball machines was created because many of the machines used to have images of women in little clothing. However these laws originated, it is entertaining to see how law officials thought back in the day, and to think of how laws enforced today may be laughed at in the future.

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