18 Obsolete Laws That Are Still Enforced Across the U.S.

Written By Jill Taylor

Many countries worldwide have some seriously bizarre and outdated laws, and America is no exception. While we doubt you’ll get arrested for breaking most of these laws, it’s still worth remembering them, so here are our 18 favorites!

No Candy Before Church Service

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In West Virginia’s Salem, you aren’t allowed to eat candy less than an hour and a half before church. This is only the first of a barrage of blue laws on our list—laws that aim to control the performance of “worldly acts” on Sunday, the Lord’s Day.

Don’t Shop For Apparel and Furniture on Sunday

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Another example of a blue law is that it’s illegal to shop for clothing, furniture, and building materials on Sundays in Wyckoff and Bergen County. The Wyckoff Government shares that the culprit legislation does have strong opposition, yet to this day, it still hasn’t been defeated.

Don’t Serve Margarine

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Today, in Wisconsin, it’s illegal for restaurants to serve margarine in a public place unless you specifically ask for it. Serving margarine to students and inmates is also against the law unless it’s medically required. It’s a weird law, but it kind of makes sense!

No Alcohol on Sundays

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One of the more famous blue laws on our list is Texas’ ban on the sales of alcohol on Sundays through the Texas Liquor Control Act. This ban has remained since 1935 despite many efforts to repeal it, and it also covers Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.

Ice Cream Sale Restrictions

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There’s an invisible war against ice cream you may not be aware of. Winona Lake in Wisconsin prohibits ice cream at counters, and whilst this already seems kind of insane, this is soft compared to laws that completely ban ice cream on Sundays in the state of Oregon!

Don’t Wear a Fake Moustache

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When you consider laws against fake mustaches, you’d ordinarily think they’re trying to protect us from falling for fake identities. Not in Alabama, though. Here, you aren’t allowed to wear a fake mustache that causes people to laugh in church. Exploring your comic side can land you in real trouble.

Never Scare the Pigeons

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Every kid enjoys running around to scare off pigeons, but do that in Boston, and their parents could be hit with a $20 fine. Yes, really, and this isn’t even the worst-case scenario. Boston University reminds visitors that scaring pigeons could even land you with a one-month jail term. Protect pigeons at all costs!

Too Much Bingo, and You’re in Trouble

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There are many restrictions on playing bingo in North Carolina that you may not find welcoming. First, it’s a felony offense to host a game without a permit. Even with a permit, hosting a bingo session more than twice a week and for more than five hours per session is still a felony!

Voodoo Fortune-telling

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Many states have struck down their laws against fortune-telling, regarding them as restrictions on free speech. However, this hasn’t shaken New Orleans’s stance against “voodoo” practices. You still aren’t allowed to use fortune-telling to settle disputes with your partner, obtain secrets, or find your long-lost bracelets.

No Hunting on Sundays

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In Pennsylvania, three Sundays a year are dedicated to hunting deer and bears during archery and gun seasons. On other Sundays, you risk getting into trouble unless you’re taking out crows, foxes, and coyotes, but thankfully, CBS reports that this law may soon be a thing of the past.

Hide Your Car From Horses

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Another outdated law in Pennsylvania requires motorists to pull over and hide their vehicles under bushes if horses on the road are spooked by them. You heard that right. The law exists to safeguard passengers in horse-pulled carriages, but frankly, it’s ridiculous considering the country’s evolved traffic landscape.

No Patent Shoes for Women

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Sadly, many outdated American laws aren’t very fair, especially for women. For example, it’s prohibited in Cleveland, Ohio, for women to wear patent leather shoes in public. It’s an old city ordinance aimed at curbing immorality, apparently helping to prevent men from peeping at women’s underwear through their shoe reflections…wait, what!?

No Cornflakes on Sundays

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If you run out of cereal on a Sunday morning, finding something else to eat may be best so you don’t end up on the wrong side of the law. This is the case in Columbus, Ohio, where stores are banned from selling cornflakes on Lord’s Day.

Mind How You Call Joliet

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The city of Joliet in Illinois has a law that dictates how you pronounce its name. According to the city’s Code of Ordinances, the official pronunciation is “jo-li-et,” and anything other than this is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine.

Get Married If You Want To Co-Habit

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It’s a general norm that unmarried couples don’t enjoy the same rights as married couples, especially when it comes to sharing property after a split. However, West Virginia, among other states, takes it a notch up by prohibiting unmarried couples from freely living together at all!

Don’t Honk Your Horn After 9 PM Near Food Stands

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One of the outrageously specific rules on our list comes straight out of Little Rock, Arkansas. Honking your horn is fine at any time of the day, except when it’s past 9 PM and you’re close to cold drinks or sandwich stands. We’d love to hear the story behind that one.

Clean Your Home Well!

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Lazy people should never move to Pennsylvania, where there is a special cleaning ordinance that prevents you from sweeping dirt under hidden places! This means it isn’t just hygienic to clean well; it’s also crucial for your legal safety. It’s an unusual law, but at least it keeps your home clean.

Don’t Sleep on Refrigerators Outside

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Finally, we’ve covered some weird laws in Pennsylvania, but perhaps the weirdest is that if your refrigerator is placed outside, it’s illegal to nap on it. No one really knows what this law is trying to protect or if it’s really enforced, but we doubt you’ll be trying it any time soon!

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