For most of us, pumping gas or wearing high heels is just part of everyday life. But, if you take a look at the law books, you would be surprised to find out that such simple acts are actually considered illegal in many states across the US. While each state has its own set of laws that are strictly enforced among the citizens, there are a handful of them, that can actually make you giggle. From not being able to pump your own gas to not being able to share your Netflix password with your significant other, here are 12 simple things that are illegal in the some US states.
1. Arkansas: Pronouncing the state name incorrectly.
Mispronouncing Arkansas is one of the simplest things an unfamiliar person can do when visiting the state. Basically, some people pronounce Arkansas as Arkansass, but the correct way is Arkansaw. According to Title 1 Chapter 4 Section 104 of the Arkansas Code, a person must pronounce the name of the state in a specific way. The State Code also explains that there’s only one acceptable pronunciation: “in three (3) syllables, with the final ‘s’ silent, the ‘a’ in each syllable with the Italian sound, and the accent on the first and last syllables”. So, visitors beware! (source)
2. Georgia: Eating fried chicken with utensils.
In 1961, Gainesville, Georgia wanted to become the poultry capital of the world. So, they passed a measure making it illegal to eat fried chicken with anything other than your hands. Like KFC’s motto, the town’s law is not just a suggestion, but mandatory. In 2009, 91 year old Ginny Dietrick from Louisiana was celebrating her 91st birthday by enjoying a lunch of Longstreet Cafe’s finest fried chicken, when Gainesville Police Chief Frank Hooper told Dietrick to put down her fork and cited her. Hooper informed Dietrick that it’s against city ordinance to eat fried chicken with anything other than her hands.
Later, Gainesville Mayor Myrtle Figueras dismissed the charge against Dietrick since they only meant to teach her a lesson; that Gainesville is “the poultry capital of the world”. The mayor also informed her that by law, she is “required to come back to Gainesville often and eat lots of Gainesville chicken”. (source 1, 2)
3. Illinois: No “fancy” bike riding.
If you are ever biking in Illinois, then keep your tricks to yourself. The Galesburg city law strictly prohibits “fancy riding” of any bicycle on city streets, particularly riding with both hands removed from the handlebars, both feet removed from the pedals, or “any acrobatic” shenanigans. According to Sec. 28-345. – Trick riding, “No rider of a bicycle shall remove both hands from the handlebars, or feet from the pedals, or practice any acrobatic or fancy riding on any street. The chief of police or his agent is authorized to approve racing events under section 11-1514 of The Illinois Vehicle Code [625 ILCS 5/11-1514]”. A Galesburg police officer states that while the law exists, it’s rarely enforced. He also believes that the law could have came to existence during a time or concern about bicyclist safety. (source)
4. Kansas: No throwing snowballs at other people.
One of the best things during Winter is snowball fights with your friends or siblings. But, in Topeka, Kansas, the simple act is considered illegal. In 2005, the town’s mayor accidentally broke the law himself when he threw a snowball at someone. According to the city code, anyone caught throwing a snowball in public can be fined up to $499 and jailed for 179 days. When a high school student pointed out the ridiculous law, the mayor vowed that he would overturn the snowball ban. However, it is unclear whether he repealed the ridiculous ordinance, so, better safe than sorry. (source)
5. Connecticut: It is illegal to kiss your wife on Sundays.
When it comes to love, there’s no limit in showing affection, unless you live in Hartford, Connecticut. According to an old law, it is illegal for a man to kiss his wife on Sunday but it is perfectly fine on any other day. This law, which was derived from “The Blue Laws of Connecticut”, was apparently created to regulate public morality. In Hartford, it is also illegal to educate a dog or cross the street on one’s hands. (source 1, 2)
6. Minnesota: Women cannot impersonate Santa Claus.
According to an old Minnesota law, women who wear Santa Claus outfits and try to impersonate him can spend up to 30 days in jail. In the state, it is also illegal to stand around any building without a good reason to be there. So, if you are waiting for a friend or an Uber ride, make sure you are pacing back and forth. Won’t look suspicious at all! (source)
7. Arizona: No feeding garbage to swine without first obtaining a permit.
According to the Arizona State Legislature, 3-2664. Permit to feed garbage to swine; exception, “No person shall feed garbage to swine without first obtaining a permit from the associate director. All permits shall be renewed during January of each year”. However, the law does not apply to those who feed their own household garbage to the pigs they are raising. So, remember that you need a permit before feeding your neighbors’ piglets! (source)
8. Iowa: No passing off margarine as real butter.
Any person who attempts to pass off margarine, oleo, or oleomargarine as real butter is guilty of a misdemeanor under food-labeling laws in Iowa. If anyone intends to sell margarine, then they have to specifically label it and should never advertise it as real butter. According to the Iowa State Legislature, products such as renovated butter, oleo, margarine and imitation cheese must “be labeled on the side or top of the container or package in which placed, kept, offered or exposed for sale, or sold as prescribed in sections 189.9 to 189.12”. Those who break this law are guilty of a simple misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $625 fine. (source 1, 2)
9. Mississippi: No swearing in public.
For some, swearing is part of their vocabulary. But, if you swear in public in Mississippi, then you can get in a lot of hot water. According to the Mississippi State Legislature, Section 97-29-47, Mississippi Code of 1972, if anyone swears in public or uses indecent language, causing disturbance for others, then they could get a $100 fine and spend 30 days in jail. While some people argue that the law cannot be strictly enforced, according to authorities, the law was established in order to protect the public. (source)
10. New York: Buying sliced bagels is subject to an 8.875% tax.
Americans consume more than 204.91 million bagels a year. Of all the states, New York tops the list for the most bagels consumed. New Yorkers also favor bagels over other bread products. New York is also known for taxing everything, including cut bagels. According to USA Today, New York imposes an 8 cent tax to all “altered” bagels, whether it is sliced, toasted or served with a “schmear” of cream cheese or butter. However, uncut bagels, which are sold for home consumption are tax exempt. (source)
11. Tennessee: Sharing your passwords for sites such as Netflix and iTunes is illegal.
Sharing Netflix logins with friends or your significant other is a common practice across the world. In Tennessee however, it is illegal to do so. The law was pushed through with the help of recording industry lobbyists trying to prevent multiple people from streaming movies for free. Those who go against the law and share their passwords, whether it be Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime, will face hefty fines, a misdemeanor, and even jail time. (source)
12. New Jersey: You can’t pump your own gas.
People driving through New Jersey would be surprised to learn that it is illegal to pump your own gas in the Garden State. The Retail Gasoline Dispensing Safety Act and Regulations that was enacted in 1949, bans drivers from pumping their own gas in New Jersey. The law, which is still effective, states that it was established to ensure everyone’s safety. However, most people believe that the law was established with one thing in mind: money. By outlawing self-service, gas stations and companies associated with it make more money. So, if you are driving through NJ, be ready to wait in long lines to get gas. (source)