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How Did These Crazy Laws Get Passed?


Looking at strange laws which are still on the books in various places around the world can be a fun pastime. You may think you’d get through them all pretty quickly, but you would be wrong. There are thousands of these laws all around the world, some of which make no sense at all, and others which are simply outdated.

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No witchcraft in Ireland? No bear wrestling in Alabama? Who thinks these things up? Well, whoever did, they have my support. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to have the kind of fun we’re about to have today. Let’s take a look at just a handful of these wild bits of legislation.

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No Furry Fisticuffs

Feel like taking on a bear? You better not give it a try while in Alabama. If you do, you could end up in some hot water with the law. I’m not sure if this is to protect the bear or the stupid human, but, as strange as it is, this might actually be one of the better laws out there. I’ve seen people do some crazy things.

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Let Sleeping Bears … Sleep

If you want a photo op with a bear, you’ll need to wait for it to be awake while in Alaska. Not only is waking a bear to take a photo very dangerous, it’s also quite illegal in the most northern state in the United States. I suppose you could find some sort of loophole by waking it up for another reason, then taking the photo.

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Caring About Camels

If you see a camel wandering around in Arizona, don’t even think about shooting it. There’s no camel hunting in Arizona. For a little background, the U.S. military was using the camels for testing in Arizona and set them free when they were done. They wanted to protect them, so camel hunting became illegal.

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Oddly Specific

A hotel may seem like a great way to get some height, but if you’re going to make your way to the second story in order to shoot some buffalo, think again. Thanks to one of Texas’ laws, doing just that is illegal. There goes my idea for a hunting blind-styled hotel out in the state’s plains areas. C’est la vie.

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Keep it Clean, Animals

I can’t think of any way to enforce this law. Nature will do what nature will do. In the great state of California, animals having sex within 1,500 feet of a tavern, school or place of worship are in violation of the law. What are the police going to do, arrest them? Why would anyone think animals would care about these laws?

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Not Cool

Ladies in Japan better take care in air conditioned buildings. If they aren’t wearing a bra, they could be in trouble. This is, of course, because men simply wouldn’t be able to avert their eyes should the cold air cause certain parts of a woman’s anatomy to stiffen. Men, let’s keep it together. Stop ogling women and just let them be comfortable.

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Pirate Radio

This is a cool law. In Israel, somebody running an illegal radio station won’t be doing so after five years. If an illegal radio station manages to stay on for five years, they’re made a legal station. This sort of makes me want to get my own station going. I want to hit the airwaves to play my favorite tunes while talking about science fiction and whatever else I feel like. I would just have to stay hidden for five years!

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Keep it Moving

Get this: Motorists are forbidden by law to slow down at a crosswalk. Doing so can lead to a fine. Why even have crosswalks, then? If they’re not protected spaces, people can just cross anywhere they like. This one I don’t get at all. Keeping the flow of traffic is important and all, but so is human life!

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Don’t Drag This Out

I’ve heard of beating a dead horse, but not of dragging one. Apparently doing so is illegal if it’s a Sunday in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Specifically, dragging a dead horse down Yonge Street in downtown Toronto is illegal on Sundays. I’m not even going to begin trying to guess why this law went into effect. It’s just a little too specific and strange.

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Illuminating Laws

How many Australians does it take to change a light bulb? None, unless you’re a licensed electrician. By Australian law, only electricians can change light bulbs. Frankly, I find this to be highly unnecessary and don’t imagine it’s enforced much anymore, if at all. I could see this being some sort of economical help for electricians, but mostly it’s just silly.

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General Bacon

Do the French have fond memories of Napoleon Bonaparte? Not being French, I can’t say for certain, but they do take issue with calling your pig Napoleon. This is such an oddly specific law, but I have to assume it somehow relates to the George Orwell satirical story Animal Farm, in which a pig named Napoleon takes over the farm and tries to become more human.

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Show Those Pearly Whites

You’ve got to leave your gloominess at home when in Milan, Italy. Anyone out on the street needs to have a smile on their face when others are around. If you’ve got a frown, you’re facing a fine. This rule doesn’t apply to everyone, though. Hospital workers and folks at a funeral don’t need to smile, though smiling can help push through the stress and sadness.

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Staying Low Key

Meetings of Parliament in Great Britain can be an intimidating affair. The members of Parliament scream over each other, seemingly growing increasingly irritated with whatever is happening. Unfortunately for them, they can’t come in wearing a suit of armor for protection. To be fair, it probably wouldn’t be all that useful, though the law also bans them from bringing a sword into their sessions, which is certainly a good thing.

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No Witches Allowed

When people think witches, it isn’t uncommon to think of Ireland, Scotland and the like. Merlin, for instance, and Morgana are both magic users associated with the area. If they happened to go to Ireland on a whim, they would find themselves in prison, however. In fact, anyone practicing witchcraft or dealing with the occult can be jailed for a year!

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Take a Seat

The Swiss seem to go out of their way to make sure everyone is happy. They even have laws regarding bathroom use in the wee hours of the night. In Switzerland, men cannot stand while peeing after 10 p.m. As an added bit of fun, nobody can flush the toilet after 10 p.m., either. If I were to guess, I’d say this stems from the desire to avoid noise complaints.

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Legal Larceny

The viking spirit lives on in Norway thanks to one of their laws, though I imagine it’s not enforced these days. By Norwegian law, men must leave Norway to pillage and plunder other countries every five years. I can see some real diplomatic issues forming if this law starts being used again. It’s just not very neighborly.

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Stay Positive!

The more northern areas of the world have some interesting cycles as far as the sun is concerned. During certain parts of the year, the sun can disappear for a good long while, much longer than in the equatorial areas of the world. Something like this might make you wish the sun would come back, but don’t speak that wish aloud in Sweden or you’ll get in trouble.

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Eat It Up

Here’s a law I can get behind. If you’re staying at an inn in the great country of Denmark and decide to have a meal, you cannot be charged for the meal until you are full. Now, who’s to say when you’re full? Seems like something only you can decide. Apparently you can eat to your heart’s content and not have to pay a dime, so long as you don’t say you’re full.

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Simply Unnatural

Talk about being vague. In the state of Florida, no person can commit any “unnatural acts” with another person. What does this mean? Is this a sexual thing, or is it saying we can’t watch television with another person because it isn’t natural? We need more specifics in our laws, especially in a place such as Florida where everything seems pretty unnatural.

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Fried Legislation

There’s only one way to eat fried chicken in Gainesville, Georgia: with your hands. Using any other method is strictly forbidden by local law. This law is a bit of a sham, however. It was passed and used as a publicity stunt which involved an elderly woman who was to be arrested for using a knife and fork. The mayor immediately pardoned her. The law remains on the books.

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A Brief Respite

Car dealers are a necessary evil. They can be really pushy sometimes, and it’s more than a little frustrating. Fortunately, there’s one day in which the car salesman have to put away their pushiness: Sunday. By law in Maine no cars can be sold on Sundays. Interestingly, this doesn’t just mean dealerships, as the law extends to anyone selling a car on Sundays!

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Breaking Up the Band

Few things are as fantastic as a beer and pretzels. At a baseball game, on the couch or at a bar, these two things were basically made to go together. Selling them in North Dakota, however, can cause some issues. If you happen to sell them at the same time, you’re in for it. Stores can sell beer, or they can sell pretzels, but they can’t sell both.

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Sorry, Tommy

No pinball wizards are allowed in Beacon, New York. I guess that’s not entirely true. Pinball players can be in the city, but owning a pinball machine simply isn’t allowed. This old rule stems from a belief in a connection between pinball machines and the mafia back in the day, though it was also enforced recently. These are strange times.

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Call it Quick!

Go to any bingo hall and you’ll see people take it quite seriously. In North Carolina, there’s even a time limit, and going over it is a crime. If your caller is going so slow that the game isn’t over within five hours, well, I don’t know what happens, really, I just know it’s against the law. Also, you’d have to be going really slow to hit that time limit. I can’t imagine waiting around that long.

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Man Bites Dog

Police officers on duty have a special tool in Paulding, Ohio. If an officer deems there is no other way to calm down a dog, the officer can bite it. Would this be something I would choose to use? Probably not, but I guess if there’s no other way, it might work. This begs the question of whether or not only police can do this. Can I bite my dog if he’s being a pain?

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No Smooches Allowed

A mustachioed man can rule kissing his girlfriend or wife right out in Eureka, Nevada. According to the local laws, a man will be in violation if he kisses a woman while sporting a mustache. I’m sure this is something which doesn’t go over well in mustache-loving Nevada. Doesn’t everyone wear a mustache out there?

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Vegan Sabbath

Few things are as wonderful as cooking up some steaks on the grill on a Sunday afternoon. If you live in Washington, though, you should make sure you grab that meat ahead of time. According to the state’s laws, there is no buying of meat on a Sunday. You’ll end up making vegan burgers instead of delicious meat goodies.

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Far Too Strong

Check your breath the next time you have an Italian dinner in Indiana. If you’ve eaten garlic within the past four hours, you should probably just stay home or in your car. Heading to a public event or using any sort of public transportation while under the strong-smelling effects of garlic is a big no-no.

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A Light Gift

“Happy Valentine’s Day, sweetheart! Enjoy this massive box of candy!” If this is a scenario you’ve always wanted to play out, you better hope it’s either under 50 pounds or you don’t live in Idaho, because the law says you can’t give away that much candy to your fiancé. Frankly, if my partner wants that much chocolate, I’m going to get it for her.

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