Each state has its unique laws that people may not expect. For example, it's illegal to get a fish drunk in Ohio, or it's illegal for a donkey to sleep in a bathtub in Arizona. It seems each state has a law stranger than the next, and many seem so absurd you wonder why they were necessary in the first place.
Though some of these laws seem pointless now, some of them had an excellent reason. At the time, people relied on a different set of resources and held each other to a different set of social mores. These laws have stayed on the books despite being antiquated. Throughout the United States, you'll find a collection of statutes that are near folklore.
However, one state seems to have an even more extensive collection of odd laws than the others. Alabama became the twenty-second state on December 14, 1819. The state is known as the 'Heart of Dixie,' and most people who live in the state are conservative Christians.
The state has many laws on the books to help eliminate impropriety, gambling, lewd acts, and other offenses. However, aside from basic rules that you would typically find in a state, Alabama also has a handful of laws that seem to go above and beyond keeping the peace. These involve things like fruit you can't spit on the streets and how to dress when you're in public. These are 20 weird laws in Alabama you won't believe are true.
1. It's illegal to impersonate a priest
The church is something taken very seriously in Alabama. Many laws on the books prohibit you from doing several different things while in a sanctuary. One of the most egregious offenses is impersonating a priest. According to Find Law, this includes wearing items that one might mistake as religious garb.
This law not only extends to priests but also nuns and rabbis. If you get caught trying to pass yourself off as one of the people, you may receive a five hundred dollar fine and jail time up to one year.
2. You can't wear high heels in Mobile
Love them or hate them, high heels can elevate an outfit despite how uncomfortable they might be. Some women don't wear them because of this, and others still do because they think they look nice. Yet, if you live in Mobile, it may be time to place your high heel collection on Posh Mark. The state forbids any shoes with stiletto heels. Never fear; a pair of nice wedges should work nicely and won't hurt your feet as much.
3. It's illegal to tie an alligator to a fire hydrant
Even though cats and dogs are the most popular pets worldwide, people prefer more exotic pets like big cats and reptiles. Some people are known to take their alligators on walks like they were a dog. That's fine even if you're in Alabama, but if you need to make a quick run into the store, you better take them home first. The state strictly forbids using a fire hydrant as a spot to keep your alligator until you return.
4. Alabama's confusing mask law
This law became a little bit tricky during the pandemic. According to Morris Bart, wearing masks in Alabama is illegal. However, during the pandemic, there was a state mandate to wear a mask. Alabama went so far as to tell people to disregard the original law for public safety. Even though the mask mandates no longer exist, both directives remain on the books. So, it looks like one cancels out the other, and you are free to wear a mask, or not depending on your mood.
5. You will be prosecuted for sleeping with a virgin
Women's virtues are safe in Alabama. There are some marriages the state is lax on; they are also very rigid about other things. One of those is men who decide to bed a virgin. This law doesn't take age or marital status into account. However, it is definitely about the amount of jail time, five years. So, it's best not to even hold hands just in case you start to think about doing other things. After all, you never know who might be watching you.
6. Flicking your boogers is illegal
Let's face it everyone has had their finger in their nose at one point when they thought no one was looking. However, it's just as likely you quickly flicked it somewhere if you didn't have Kleenex handy. According to Weird Facts, it's best not to try this in Alabama. If you flick your booger and it gets caught in the wind, state law dictates you might face prosecution. It's unclear what happens if it's a calm day and it simply drops to the ground.
7. Throwing salt can lead to execution
There's an old wives tale that dictates you throw spilled salt over your left shoulder or else you'll have bad luck. You'll have a worse fate if you try that in Alabama near a railroad track. The law once had a practical purpose. At one time, Alabama was an open range state which meant that livestock had free range to go wherever they pleased.
The powers that be wanted to make sure everyone was accountable for their safety, including railroad companies. The state felt that throwing salt on the tracks would encourage animals to cross onto the tracks, leaving them vulnerable to being hit. To help with the problem, they made the practice of throwing salt on tracks not only illegal but punishable by death.
8. You can't cat-call a woman
TLC wrote a great song about Scrubs in the late 90s. One of the best lines was, "a scrub is a guy who can't get no love from me, hanging out the side of his best friend's ride trying to holla at me." If the group lived in Alabama, the song might not exist. Mobile, Alabama prohibits anyone from cat-calling a woman on its streets.
At one time, many people in the city were military. Mobile wanted to protect the reputation of its female citizens and banned the behavior since they felt it embarrassed women.
9. You can be prosecuted for self-mutilation to get someone's attention
Let's face it; sometimes, we feel like no one is listening. Inside, you may be screaming, will you just understand what I'm going through. Yet, even if you want to take extreme measures to get someone's attention, there's one you'll need to steer clear of if you live in Alabama. The state doesn't like to see anyone unnecessarily injured and goes to great lengths to protect its citizens. So, if you decide to inflict bodily harm on yourself to get someone to feel sorry for you, chances are you'll need some bail money.
10. Confetti is illegal in Mobile
Confetti is one of those things that's fun for approximately thirty seconds. Like glitter, it seems like a good idea and then gets stuck on everything, and you find it days later in the most inopportune locations. Those who want a good excuse never to use it and enjoy a good reason to forbid people around you from using it as well may want to move to Mobile. The city is strict with the product and doesn't allow possession, manufacture, or sale of tiny pieces of paper.
11. Don't hold hands in a public restaurant
Many people love public displays of affection. Others think it's not polite to show how much you care about someone in public and keep quieter moments between couples. Those who wish to keep their relationship with their partner subtle might not mind this Alabama law. According to Stupid Laws, it's illegal for dating couples to hold hands while eating in a restaurant. Unfortunately, this probably means one milkshake and two straws won't be on the menu either.
12. Loving a porcupine will get you jail time
Even though it may sound like a southern stereotype to Yankees up north, Alabama has laws that prevent persecution for anyone who wants to marry a cousin. However, there is one animal in Alabama you'll want to stay away from, the porcupine. Most people would shy away from the idea that these creatures would make an excellent life partner. However, Alabama wants to make sure, so they wrote a law that explicitly forbids getting involved with one.
13. You can't drive blindfolded
How often have you wondered if the driver in front of you is paying attention to the road? Moreover, do you sometimes think they are blind because their driving skills are subpar? Perhaps they might be wearing a blindfold, even though I hope not. However, if they decide to try and drive with one on, an Alabama police officer can arrest them. After all, there is a law on the books that strictly forbids this behavior. Even though it seems like this should be common sense.
14. Playing Dominoes on Sunday is illegal
After getting back from church and eating Sunday supper, you may want to have a game night with your family. That's fine as long as you're playing Uno, Life, Monopoly, or Scrabble. But don't get caught playing dominoes because Alabama has made that game illegal on Sundays. If caught, you may even spend three months in jail.
15. Bear wrestling is illegal
Let' face it; some people take extreme sports to the limit. Each year, people engage in polar plunges, sky diving, rock climbing, and countless other activities some would think are crazy. However, there is one event you can't do, at least in Alabama. The state forbids any sort of wrestling matches with bears. Interestingly, Oklahoma also has the same law.
16. Driving on the wrong side of the road is legal
Everyone has strong feelings about people who violate the rules of the road. Additionally, people feel comfortable expressing their thoughts in colorful language about their fellow drivers from the privacy of their vehicles. Yet, if you're in Alabama and see someone driving the wrong way down a street, you may think it's illegal, but they won't get in any trouble as long as they have a lantern attached to the front of their vehicle.
17. You can't put ice cream in your back pocket
Ice cream is one of the best summer treats. Although many people don't like it when you're holding a cone and the ice cream starts to melt. Even though it's unlikely you would try this, Alabama wants to ensure you don't; putting ice cream in your pocket is illegal. So, if you feel the sudden urge to turn your cone into a now and later, you'd better think twice if you're within the state lines.
18. Wearing a mustache in the church is illegal
When you're younger, going to church might seem boring, and even though you try to pay attention, your mind starts wandering, and you start to think of all the ways to liven things up. However, one thing that will never work in Alabama is to wear a fake mustache. They take Sundays and church very seriously and made it illegal to wear one for fear someone may laugh.
19. You can't open an umbrella on a sidewalk in Montgomery, Alabama
Everyone knows that opening an umbrella indoors is bad luck. If you're in Seattle, getting caught outdoors without one might also be since the city is known for torrential rain showers at any moment. Unfortunately, if you get caught in one in Alabama, you'll have to dodge raindrops, at least if you're in Montgomery since it's illegal to open an umbrella on the streets.
20. Silly String is illegal
If you grew up in the 80s, chances are you got into more than one silly-string fight. For some reason, it was fun to blast your friends with an entire bottle of plastic string with the strange smell. Yet, it's like carrying a concealed weapon since Silly String is illegal if you live in Alabama.
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Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn