Can You Guess If These Weird American Laws Are Real?

Jonnathan Chadwick

Image: Caiaimage/Chris Ryan / OJO / Getty Images

About This Quiz

There was once a time when a British soldier could just walk into your house and take up residence, but thanks to the Third Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, that doesn't happen anymore. Who knows what the country would look like without it, and although it regulates nothing other than quartering soldiers and hasn't been relevant since colonial times, nobody in their right mind would think about scratching it from the Constitution. That would be chaos. It's part of the Bill of Rights! That's why some outdated laws stay on the books.

It takes time, money, effort and energy to erase a law from the law. Nullification is much easier. Instead of erasing history, the law stays on the books but is never enforced, which gives rise to some of the most classic content the internet has to offer. Some of the best folklore on the internet are the lists of unbelievably stupid and shockingly outdated laws that are still actual laws. 

They stand among the Nigerian Prince scam, those chain messages you need to forward so a loved one doesn't die and pop-up virus detection as the most classic content on the web. The thing is, while most of those items are fake, a lot of wild laws are real, enforced or not! If you sift through them all, there actually are some unbelievably stupid and shockingly outdated laws still on the books, and it is still illegal for a soldier to quarter in your home without consent. Can you guess if these weird American laws are real?

It's illegal to mispronounce Arkansas while in Arkansas.

The Arkansas State Legislature explicitly spells out how "Arkansas" should be pronounced (stress the first and last syllables and the last "s" is silent) in official proceedings, but it doesn't impose any penalties for mispronunciation, meaning mispronunciation is not illegal.

In what state is it illegal to share your Netflix password with someone?

Tennessee's infamous "Login Law" from 2011 stops people from sharing passwords to entertainment services like Netflix or Spotify, and it's illegal to share and use a password for Netflix. The law was put in place to stop organizations from selling passwords.

What is the maximum amount of time allowed for a single kiss in Iowa?

This classic internet legend says that it is illegal to kiss for more than five minutes while in Iowa, but there is nothing in the official state legislature that says so. Even if it were a real law, it'd be nearly impossible to regulate.

Which of these items is illegal to sell in Delaware?

You'll be found guilty of the unlawful trade of dog by-products if you try to sell or barter dog hair in Delaware. Every state in the country has laws to prevent animal cruelty, and this is one of them. It isn't illegal as long as the fur is trimmed at a commercial establishment.

If you cut down Arizona's iconic saguaro cactus, you will go to jail.

A saguaro cactus can grow for 200 years, meaning it takes a long time to develop. At 10 years old, it might be just three inches tall. Because of this, Arizona officials prohibit anyone from chopping down the plant, even if it's on their own property. The maximum penalty is prison time.

How much is the fine for playing a remix of the National Anthem in Boston?

It'll run you up to $100 in fines if you play your National Anthem remix at a dance club in Boston. Wherever "The Star-Spangled Banner" is played in the state of Massachusetts, it must be played as a whole and separate composition.

Where is it illegal to eat a slice of pizza while walking down the left side of the sidewalk?

Eating in public places varies from place to place, but nowhere is it illegal to eat pizza on the left side of a sidewalk specifically. A slice of pizza is probably one of the best food options if you plan on eating while walking down the sidewalk.

It is illegal to test the speed of your horse in Rhode Island.

Anyone who decides to race or test the speed of their horse down the highway in Rhode Island is subject to no more than $20.00 in fines and up to 10 days in jail. This law has been on the books for more than a century.

You are not allowed to roll boulders on public property in Boulder, Colorado.

Nobody in Boulder, CO is allowed to roll, throw or move rocks or boulders on public property. The only people allowed to do so are employees who are instructed to do so. Colorado is home to some of the best parks in the country, and everything is perfect right where it is.

In what state is it illegal to own more than 110 pounds of potatoes at once?

Idaho is the potato capital of the world, and there is no law limiting how many potatoes someone can posses at once. However, an Australian law went into effect in 1946 that limited some Australians to possessing no more than 110 pounds of potatoes at any one time.

Between which hours is it unlawful to cause static in Huron, South Dakota?

Nobody likes static electricity. It builds up in cotton or wool and shocks you when you least expect it. It would take a lot of wool sweaters to build up enough static to interfere with radio or television broadcasts, but causing that much static between 7 and 11 a.m. in Huron, South Dakota is illegal.

In what state is it illegal to pump your own gas?

It has been illegal to pump your own gas in New Jersey since 1949, and today it is the only state where it's still illegal to do so. It's for safety reasons, but just like everything, some people break the rules and do whatever they want.

It is unlawful to sell your car on a Sunday in Michigan.

The Michigan Legislature says it is unlawful to buy, sell, trade or exchange a new or used motor vehicle on the first day of the week, Sunday. All dealerships in the state should close on that day, and Michiganers are expected to spend time with family.

How many pounds of chocolate are you allowed to gift someone in Idaho before it becomes illegal?

Here's another internet legend you may have seen: It's illegal to give your spouse a box of chocolates that weighs 50 pounds or more for Valentine's Day. Another myth says it's illegal to gift a box weighing less than 50 pounds. However you look at it, it's false.

It's illegal to scold a barking dog in which of these states?

As much as Americans love their pets, it is not illegal to scold a barking dog in any of these cities. People in Switzerland apparently love dogs more, because it's illegal to scold a barking dog there. It is also illegal to boil a live lobster in Switzerland.

You're not allowed to get arrested on Sunday or July 4th in Ohio.

According to the Ohio Revised Code, no one can be arrested on a Sunday or on the Fourth of July. It is a real law, but you will 100% get arrested if you commit a major crime on a Sunday or July 4th. Only extremely minor offenses might be ignored.

It's illegal to wear high heels on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. is home to some of the world's most famous monuments, and while all of them have specific rules and guidelines for visiting, wearing heels on the National Mall is not prohibited. Greek officials, however, banned visitors from wearing heels to Ancient monuments after years of wear and tear.

In which of these cities is it illegal to take a selfie with a tiger?

Direct contact between the public and big cats is illegal in all of New York. Direct contact is described as close enough proximity to allow a photograph to be taken without a physical barrier between the public and cat.

How old do you have to be to legally play pinball in South Carolina?

Chapter 19 of the South Carolina Code of Laws outlines the Juvenile Justice Code and states: "It is unlawful for a minor under the age of eighteen to play a pinball machine." South Carolina courtrooms are not overflowing with pinball violators, though, since this law isn't enforced.

Bear wrestling is explicitly prohibited in Missouri.

There is no better way to prove your machismo than by wrestling a bear, but you can't do it in Missouri. The law was put in place to protect the animals from cruelty, and training bears to wrestle or hosting bear wrestling contests is also explicitly prohibited.

How many apples are you allowed to pick from a single branch before it becomes illegal in Contoocook, New Hampshire?

Apple picking during the fall in New England is a classic pastime and people from all over flock to small towns like Contoocook, NH to take in the beautiful scenery and pick tasty apples. There is no law regulating how many apples you can pick from a single branch.

How much money can you be fined for swearing in public in West Virginia?

West Virginia isn't the only place in the country that enforces public decency through legislation, and anyone who swears in the state in public can be fined up to $1 for each offense. This law is never enforced, but it is a good idea.

It is illegal to serve hot lobster rolls at public establishments in Maine.

A Maine-style lobster roll features lobster and mayo. It's cold. A Connecticut-style lobster roll features lobster and melted butter. It's hot, and although serving one in Maine borderlines on blasphemy, it is not illegal.

What is the penalty for driving around in a dirty car in Beverly Hills, California?

As picturesque as Beverly Hills might be, it is not illegal to drive a dirty car around the area. Motorists in Russia, however, face fines if they drive around in a dirty car. Usually, they're only fined if their license plate is obscured.

You are not allowed to order someone a surprise pizza in the state of Louisiana.

Apparently, too many people were placing prank calls in Louisiana and ordering bunches of pizzas for unsuspecting customers, because now it's illegal to do so. It's a nice gesture to order a surprise pizza for someone, but only if they want pizza, and only if you pay for it.

In which of these cities is it illegal to chew gum?

It is legal to chew gum in all 50 of the United States. This notorious "chewing gum" law is from Singapore, and it helps keep the city clean. Every sidewalk in America is spotted with black dots from old pieces of gum, and America's biggest cities don't compare in cleanliness to Singapore.

How many college students are allowed to live together in a sorority house before it becomes illegal?

This is a classic internet myth that says large sorority houses are at risk of breaking brothel laws and are illegal in several states. It's not true, and the only thing that limits the number of students in a sorority house is the living regulation of the area.

Artificial snow is illegal in Billings, Montana.

Billings, MT gets close to 50 inches of snow per year, and all of it is real. With that being said, it's not illegal to make artificial snow in the city or anywhere in the state, and ski resorts do so just like everywhere else in the world.

At which of these train stations is it illegal to kiss while the train is on the platform?

There are no laws about kissing at any of these train stations. There is no kissing on train platforms in France when the train is on the platform, however. This is to prevent delays caused by people standing on the platform romantically kissing their spouse goodbye as they stick their head out a train window.

How much jail time do you face if convicted of selling homemade cookies in Wisconsin?

New Jersey and Wisconsin are the only two states in the country where it is illegal to sell home-baked goods, and doing so in Wisconsin could land you in jail for six months. If you want to sell home-baked goods, you need a commercial kitchen, which can cost $80,000, or $1,000 a month in rent.

You are not allowed to take credit for a hole-in-one in Allen, Texas unless at least one other golfer witnessed it.

Very few golfers will ever get a hole in one during a round of golf, and although it would be devastating to get one without anyone witnessing it, it's not illegal and it still counts everywhere in the world.

It's illegal to secretly listen to your co-workers gossip while in Oklahoma.

You can't secretly loiter about a building in an attempt to overhear some juicy gossip that you can use against someone in Oklahoma. Depending on the situation, the act might be hard to prove, but most states have some type of eavesdropping laws.

It is illegal to play more than 10 hours of bingo per week in North Carolina.

Bingo sessions in North Carolina can only be held twice a week for five hours a session, and no two sessions can occur within 48 hours. Bingo sessions being held at a fair or exhibition don't have to follow these rules.

After what time are you not allowed to flush a toilet in an apartment building in Bismarck, North Dakota?

Urban legend says it is illegal to flush your toilet between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. in an apartment building in Switzerland. After 10 p.m. is considered quiet time in Switzerland and most of the world, but it is not illegal to flush your toilet.

How many camels are you allowed to hunt during hunting season in Arizona?

Camels live in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, not America. Before he was president of the Confederacy, Secretary of War Jefferson Davis had camels imported to the southwest desert to see whether they'd be suitable for transportation needs. The experiment didn't work out.

You are not allowed to sit down on the sidewalk in downtown Reno, Nevada.

The Reno City Council has done whatever possible to keep the sidewalks clear of congestion, and sitting and lying on the sidewalk in the Downtown Reno Regional Center is a violation that will lead to a warning followed by a misdemeanor.

Confetti is illegal in Mobile, Alabama.

Mobile, AL isn't the party capital of the world, and nobody there wants to see your confetti or silly string all over the street. It's unlawful to possess, sell, give away, manufacture or use either of these products within city limits.

How many people can you swear in front of in Mississippi before it becomes illegal?

It is illegal to use profanity in the presence of two or more people in Mississippi, and if you do, you could face a $100 fine and up to 30 days in jail or both. Two people, who are not police officers, have to sign an affidavit saying you swore in public for you to pay the penalty.

It's against the law to frown at a police officer in Paradise, Michigan.

This is a fake law, but Paradise, MI is a real place. It joins places like Celebration, FL; Success, MO; Lovely, KY and Magic City, ID as the happiest town names in the country. It has been illegal to not smile in Pocatello, ID since 1948, which is the U.S. Smile capital.

You can't dance at a bar in Maine unless it has what type of license?

Only in the backwoods of Maine is it acceptable to ban dancing at a bar, but that's the law. Unless the bar has an "amusement permit," it can't serve alcohol and allow dancing. If you're singing karaoke in a bar that doesn't have a permit, you can still dance, according to law.

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