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20 Weird Laws That Come From Michigan


Weird laws can show up for a wide range of reasons. For example, they might have been instituted for reasons that once made sense but no longer. Similarly, they might have been instituted because of something unusual that was a point of local concern. On top of that, different people look at things from different positions, so what makes sense for one group of people might not make sense for another. For that matter, people are by no means guaranteed to make sense, so there are plenty of weird laws that exist for weird reasons that may or may not have been recorded for posterity. Michigan is not exempt from these things, meaning that Michigan has plenty of weird laws of its own.

20. Illegal to Smoke in Bed

Soo, MI has made it illegal to smoke while someone is in bed. This seems like one of those laws that are well-intentioned but nonetheless a bit obtrusive. After all, smoking is a very common cause of household fires.

19. Illegal to Let a Pig Run Loose Without a Nose Ring

In Detroit, there is a law that makes it illegal to let a pig run loose without a nose ring. This is one of those laws that seem ridiculous on initial consideration but makes a lot of sense when one thinks about it. For those who are unfamiliar, a nose ring prevents a pig from rooting, which means using their nose to push into various things. That might sound harmless. However, pigs can do a great deal of damage through their rooting, thus making this very important.

18. Illegal to Willfully Destroy an Old Radio

On a related note, Detroit has another law that bans the willful destruction of old radios. It isn't clear why this is even a thing. Certainly, old radios contain things that are best-handled in a careful manner for the best results. However, that doesn't go as far as banning their willful destruction altogether. Presumably, there is some kind of important context that we are missing.

17. Illegal to Abandon Hoop Skirts On Streets and Sidewalks

Grand Haven, MI forbids the abandoning of hoop skirts on its streets and sidewalks on pain of a five-dollar fine for each such offense. Nowadays, hoop skirts don't see much use, so this is presumably an old law that has never been removed from the books. Still, it makes one wonder why the locals were abandoning so many hoop skirts on the streets and sidewalks that the city had to specifically pass a law for the purpose of cracking down on said practice.

16. Can't Have Sex In a Car In Most Places

It is illegal for people to have sex with one another in a car in most places in Detroit. They can do it so long as the car is sitting on property that belongs to them. However, if they do so anywhere else, they can get into serious trouble. Perhaps this is one of those laws that were meant to combat prostitution in a round-about way. Still, it is much funnier to imagine Detroit couples making such a nuisance of themselves that they managed to get this banned by the city.

15. People Can Keep Their Cows On Main Street For a Very Affordable Price

Wayland, MI has a law that says that people can keep their cows on its Main Street for the very affordable price of three cents a day. This seems very weird. However, a quick look at the history of Wayland, MI says that while European settlers started taking an interest in the area because of lumber-cutting opportunities, said individuals were followed by other people who were more interested in farming instead. Something that included the rearing of dairy cows. Presumably, this law is a consequence of those times when it wouldn't have been so strange for someone to have a reason to bring their cow into the city.

14. Not Allowed to Sell Cars on Sundays

There are a lot of places that have laws that forbid businesses from doing business on Sundays because it is supposed to be a day of rest under most branches of Christianity. Having said that, Michigan is rather unusual in that it effectively prohibits car dealerships from operating on Sundays, which seems much more specific than it needed to be. Even stranger, it has an out for car dealerships located in counties with less than 130,000 residents in that they can continue selling cars on said days.

13. Bounties For Crows and Starlings

Apparently, Michigan legislators used to have a great dislike for crows and starlings. This can be seen in how the state used to offer a 10 cent bounty for every crow as well as a 3 cent bounty for every starling that was killed in the vicinity of one of the state's municipalities. Presumably, these birds were seen as pests, so much so that Michigan wanted to take serious steps to keep their numbers low. This is particularly true since crows and starlings are still sometimes seen as pests, though it depends on the exact context as well as the exact species. In any case, this particular law was repealed in 2006.

12. Illegal to Kill a Dog Using a Decompression Chamber

For some reason, Michigan has a law that makes it illegal for someone to kill a dog using a decompression chamber. This seems reasonable enough. Decompression chambers are sealed chambers that can create a high-pressure environment, which tends to be used for medical purposes. Still, there is a point when higher-than-normal pressure can cause serious problems for living beings that are used to normal pressures. The bigger issue is that the existence of this law suggests that someone had killed either one or more dogs using a decompression chamber, which is extremely strange but also extremely messed-up.

11. Illegal to Be Drunk On Trains

Making it illegal to be drunk while driving is very understandable. A person's driving skill nosedives when they are intoxicated, so that is very important for protecting them as well as everyone else both on and off of the road. The state of Michigan is very unusual in that it has a law that makes it illegal for someone to be drunk on trains as well, which raises the question of why state legislators thought that was a good idea. After all, one would think that it would be better for someone who is drunk to take a train rather than try to make their way home on their own.

10. Illegal to Paint Sparrows to Sell Them As Parakeets

Amusingly, Harper Woods, MI has a law that makes it illegal to paint sparrows for the purpose of selling them as parakeets. Presumably, there was some kind of scamster who tried exactly that on either a lot of locals or a very important local, thus resulting in a very specific response. There is the question of why someone would mistake a painted sparrow for a parakeet because they are quite different-looking, though to be fair, checking out the appearance of a parakeet would have been much more difficult in the past than in the present.

9. Illegal to Serenade Your Girlfriend

Speaking of which, Kalamazoo, MI has a law that makes it illegal to serenade one's girlfriend. Once again, this seems like the kind of law that was passed because someone at some point in time was very obnoxious about this, whether because said individual was a very poor singer, a very frequent singer, or a horrible combination of both.

8. Adultery Is Illegal

Adultery used to be seen in an even more negative light, so much so that it was considered to be something where it was appropriate for the law to intervene. As such, there are various places that still have adultery laws on the books, which tend to be seen as being rather old-fashioned nowadays. Michigan is one of these states. For the most part, its adultery law is pretty much what one would expect. Still, there is one curious part in that an unmarried man in a relationship with a married woman can be found guilty of adultery as well. That can seem a bit strange since the man isn't married but that actually makes sense because there are definitions of adultery that include all extra-marital sex that are considered to be objectionable for some moral reason. Having said that, Michigan's adultery law isn't enforced unless the spouse who has been cheated on makes a complaint about it.

7. A Man Isn't Allowed to Scowl At His Wife On Sundays

Strangely enough, Detroit has a law saying that a man isn't allowed to scowl at his wife on Sundays. This is presumably one of those laws that aren't taken very seriously. Still, it is hard to imagine how it would be enforced at all even if it was taken seriously.

6. Illegal to Swear In Front of Women and Children

Apparently, there was a time when it was illegal to swear in front of women and children in the state of Michigan, which raises the question of whether women would have been breaking the law if they started swearing on their own. Suffice to say that this seems like one of those dumb laws that were doomed to failure because they stretched themselves past the breaking point by trying to do too much.

5. Bathing Suits Must Have Been Inspected By the Head of Police

Rochester, MI has the bizarre requirement that bathing suits must have been inspected by the head of police. People would be rightfully annoyed by it in modern times. However, it is hard to imagine that people were any more OK with it in the past. For that matter, the head of police doesn't seem like the kind of position that would have the time to waste on something this ridiculous. Rochester, MI might not be the most populous city by most standards. Even so, it is a city, which presumably means that its head of police has better things to do than this of all things.

4. Anyone Older Than 12 Can Have a Handgun License So Long As They Aren't a Convicted Felon

Gun rights are a complicated and contentious topic. However, it seems safe to say that lot of people would agree that letting anyone over the age of 12 have a handgun license so long as they aren't a convicted felon is a bit much.

3. Illegal to Seduce and Debauch an Unmarried Woman

Michigan makes it illegal for men to seduce and debauch an unmarried woman. If they do that anyway, they run the risk of either a maximum of five years in prison or a maximum of $2,500. However, they can't be prosecuted unless it is still within one year of the incident. Suffice to say that this is one of those old, outdated morality laws that will presumably stick around on the books until some kind of unpleasant incident causes it to blow up in the news.

2. A Woman Couldn't Cut Her Hair Without Her Husband's Permission

There used to be a Michigan law that made it illegal for a woman to cut her hair without her husband's permission. Fortunately, that particular piece of nonsense has since been removed from the books.

1. Legal to Sleep With Farm Animals

This is the kind of law that a place will never manage to live down. For those who are curious, the city of Clawson, MI has a law that makes it legal for a person to sleep with one of their farm animals so long as it is either a cow, a pig, a goat, a horse, or a chicken. Fortunately, it isn't the most notable place out there. Otherwise, it would be subjected to rightfully embarrassing jokes about this day-in and day-out.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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