The Strangest Laws in the United States

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Oftentimes, the laws we face make sense. For instance, seat belt laws protect drivers and passengers, while employment laws make working fairer for everyone. Not every law makes sense, though, and some are just plain strange. If you’re planning on taking a trip around the United States, watch out for these odd laws!

In Mississippi, Don’t Swear in a Crowd

Whether you believe decency is on the decline in America, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who’s never uttered a swear word in public. Which is why this Mississippi law is a little odd. According to the Mississippi Code’s chapter on public decency, anyone in a public place who uses “indecent language” in front of at least two people can get thrown in jail and face a $100 fine. Talk about a contribution to the swear jar!

In Louisiana, You Have to Buy Your Own Pizza

Who could refuse a pizza delivered to their door? Well, according to one law in Louisiana, if you order a delivery to an unsuspecting person and they have to pay for it (or they send it back), you could be in some serious trouble. While this law makes sense when you stop to think about it, you have to wonder how many people were unwillingly sent things before lawmakers decided enough was enough. Let this be a lesson: never spring a random act of pizza on a friend without being ready to deal with the consequences.

In Gainesville, Georgia, You Should Eat Chicken Only With Your Hands

In 2009, 91-year-old Ginny Dietrick was nearly arrested for eating a piece of fried chicken with a fork. If it sounds too ridiculous to be true, that’s because it is – kind of. Turns out, it was all a practical joke based on a real law in Gainesville, Georgia. In the 1960s, lawmakers attempted to drum up some publicity by naming fried chicken a delicacy in the city, and the law has been in the books ever since. The mayor, who was in on the joke, was kind enough to pardon Dietrick, but only on the basis that she use her freedom to eat a lot of Gainesville chicken.

In Alabama, You Can’t Gamble on a Sunday… and Certainly Not With Bears

Religious or not, many people regard Sunday as a day of rest, an opportunity to do what they want. That’s too bad for Alabamians, who are prohibited from “shooting, hunting, gaming, card playing or racing” on a Sunday. While the law is probably meant to curb gambling, the way it’s written is a little vague by today’s standards – does it mean you have to pack away the board games as well? That section of the state law goes on to limit Alabama residents from partaking in bear wrestling matches. What a boring weekend!

While most of these laws are holdovers from bygone eras, you never know what rules-savvy person might be able to call you out on an obscure law. In all seriousness, it is important to know how the state laws differ when you’re travelling, ridiculous or not!

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