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The most bizarre laws in US states revealed: Where you could face jail or hard labor for having premarital sex, playing card games on Sunday and dwarf tossing!

Thinking about hunting from a motorboat in Kansas? Or having premarital sex in Idaho?

Be careful, lest you wind up on the wrong side of the law. 

Dozens of archaic and bizarre old laws still remain on the books across the US, criminalizing many behaviors with months in jail, hundreds of dollars in fines and even hard labor.

Some of these decade-old laws have even more interesting stories – it became illegal to drop a moose out of a plane in Alaska after an animal rights group misunderstood a local game.

In other states, laws have failed to change with the times and police simply do not enforce them – as is the case with Alabama’s law against gaming on Sundays.

Here is a list of 13 of the most bizarre decades-old laws that are still on the books in the US.

Dozens of decades-old laws remain on the books in US states. Some are religious or moral relics, while others address old-fashioned technologies that are no longer in use

Arizona: It is illegal to possess fake drugs.

It doesn’t matter whether you know the drugs are real or fake, possession of ‘imitation’ drugs is illegal in Arizona.

Specifically, it is illegal to possess imitation drugs if you intend to use them.

This law, and others like it elsewhere, are aimed at prosecuting low-level drug crimes, even if the suspect has unknowingly purchased fake drugs from a dealer.

In 1907, New York passed a law making it illegal to cheat on your spouse.

Adultery is illegal in New York, thanks to a 1907 law that remains on the books. Conviction can lead to three months in jail and $500 in fines.

This law is rarely enforced, but a conviction can cost offenders 90 days in jail and $500 in fines.

A bill is currently making its way through the New York state legislature, however, that would abolish the law.

Alabama: Illegal to play cards on Sunday

According to Alabama’s legal code: ‘Any person who… engages in shooting, hunting, gaming, card playing or racing on that day… shall be fined not less than $10. nor more than $100, and may also be imprisoned in the county jail, or sentenced to hard labor for the county, for not more than three months.’

This is an old law aimed at enforcing religious rules around observing Sunday as a day of rest – the relatively low amount of the fines gives a hint to how old the law is.

The rule also prohibits automobile and motorcycle racing on Sundays, as well as forcing a child to work beyond normal household chores. 

Indiana: Illegal to fish with your bare hands

Often called ‘noodling,’ the practice of fishing with just hands for large freshwater fish is a bit strange but not all that rare in the US.

But in Indiana, it is against the law.

In fact, it’s lumped in with dynamite, guns, poison, and electricity as ‘unlawful means of taking fish’ in the Indiana legal code. 

If a person is accused of violating Indiana fish and wildlife regulations, the state can seize any equipment as evidence, and confiscate it if the suspect is convicted.

It is not likely that the state would confiscate a person’s hands, though.

An Alaska law criminalizing dropping a moose from a plane was based on an animal rights group misunderstanding a local game

Alaska: Illegal to drop a moose from an airplane

In most cases with the laws on this list, states simply stopped enforcing old laws that once had rational reasons behind them. This one, though, criminalized a behavior based on a misunderstanding.

The residents of Talkeetna, Alaska, used to play a game involving moose poo that was a twist on bingo.

Moose poo with numbers painted on it was dropped from an airplane, and when someone found the right pie, they won.

Animal rights group PETA, misunderstanding the game, lobbied the state government to make it illegal to push a moose from a plane. 

Concerned neighbors may capture and castrate a rampaging bull in Missouri, but only if they give proper three-days notice

Missouri: Illegal to castrate a stranger’s bull without sufficient notice

If a bull gets loose and goes on a rampage in Missouri, it is legal for neighbors or other concerned citizens to humanely castrate the animal in order to keep it from breeding unrestricted and generally wreaking havoc.

There is one catch, though: Anyone who aims to castrate a stranger’s bull must give proper notice to their local township and wait three days. Otherwise, they are operating outside of the law.

The castrating party must also avoid causing any needless suffering to the animal, adhering to good practices for castrating farm animals. If the owner comes to collect the animal before three days is up, though, they must pay the neighbor who caught it one dollar. 

This law also applies to boars and rams. 

In an effort to prohibit exploitation, Florida has made it illegal to toss a person with dwarfism at any establishment covered under a beverage license. Pictured is a scene from the 2013 film Wolf of Wall Street

Florida: Illegal to toss a dwarf in a bar

Specifically, Florida law states that it is illegal to engage in dwarf tossing at an establishment that sells liquor.

The law is aimed at preventing exploitation of people with the medical condition of dwarfism.

Dwarfs are not forbidden from participating in other sporting events under the law, though: ‘Nothing contained herein shall be construed to prohibit dwarfs from engaging in non-exploitative sporting or recreational events of the type engaged in by persons who are not dwarfs.’ 

Minnesota law considers it animal cruelty to grease or oil a pig, release it, and make a game of catching it

Minnesota: Illegal to grease a pig

In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, it is against the law to grease a pig – or barnyard fowl.

Specifically: ‘No person shall operate, run or participate in a contest, game, or other like activity, in which a pig, greased, oiled or otherwise, is released and wherein the object is the capture of the pig, or in which a chicken or turkey is released or thrown into the air and wherein the object is the capture of the chicken or turkey.’

Violations of this 1971 law are considered misdemeanors, punishable by a fine or possible jail time.

In Kansas, all hunting must be done on foot. There are a few exceptions, including people with physical disabilities and hunters targeting coyotes

Kansas: Illegal to hunt from a motorboat

In the state of Kansas, which is home to desirable game animals including the American bison, it is illegal to hunt from a motorboat.

Hunting from an aircraft, car, or other vehicle is also illegal.

There are some exceptions to this law, though: People who are hunting with a disability permit may use a vehicle, and hunting waterfowl from a boat that is not moving are both considered legal.

Coyote hunting is also exempt from most of Kansas’s hunting laws, as the animal is considered a threat to livestock.

Michigan: Illegal to be drunk on a train

In the state of Michigan, it is against the law to ride on a train ‘while in an offensive state of intoxication.’

If someone is violating the law, a train conductor is allowed to arrest the person, with or without a warrant. 

Anyone caught drinking alcohol on a train will have their booze confiscated, and it will be given to a station agent, who will present the drinker with a receipt. They can recover their alcohol from the station agent within 10 days or it will be disposed of.

The penalty for violating these laws against drinking or being drunk on a train: up to 90 days in jail and $100 in fines. 

Idaho: Illegal to have sex before marriage

This law still on Idaho’s books has been around since 1972, when sex before marriage was more frowned upon than it is today.

The law states: ‘Any unmarried person who shall have sexual intercourse with an unmarried person of the opposite sex shall be deemed guilty of fornication, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $300 or by imprisonment for not more than six months or by both such fine and imprisonment.’

At the discretion of a judge, though, the sentence can be suspended, or a defendant can be given probation instead of prison time.

Arkansas anti-gambling laws prohibit pinball machines from giving too many free games to a skilled player

Arkansas: Illegal to operate a pinball machine that can give a player more than 25 free games

Part of a set of laws governing gambling, this Arkansas law prohibits residents from operating a pinball machine that can give a player more than 25 free games.

Other laws in this section of the Arkansas legal code include one that prohibits coin-operated gaming devices if inserting more coins increases a player’s odds of winning.

Violation of these laws can land you in jail for up to a year and saddle you with $1,000 in fines. 

Nevada: Illegal to fit customers for shoes with an x-ray machine

In the 1930s, a machine called a shoe-fitting fluoroscope was invented. 

And by 1960, it became illegal in Nevada to use one to fit customers for shoes.

Shaped like a wooden cabinet with viewfinders at the top, it used x-rays to image a shoe shopper’s feet – under the belief that seeing a person’s foot bones would give a more accurate shoe size.

X-ray radiation is safe in small doses, but at large doses it can be linked to radiation poisoning. 

While shoe-fitting fluoroscopes are no longer around, and thus this law is probably now unnecessary, it did serve public health.

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