Utah is home to many famous landmarks, among them the incredible red rock cliffs of Zion national park, eye-catching ski resorts like Snowbird, and the ski resorts Alta. With such elegant sites to explore, you cannot imagine Utah is also home to some of the strangest laws. Some of these legislations are remnants of bygone eras, while others seem to have been created on the spot. Are you curious about what is illegal in this State? The following are 20 of the weird Utah laws that are actually real.
20. Are your kids unruly?
Hotel innkeepers in Utah have the right to charge extra fees for individuals whose kids seem excessively busy during check-ins. The charges cover the losses and damages incurred after these parents check out. According to Utah Code 29-2-103, parents with unruly children may be required to pay a deposit of $500 in Beehive’s City hotels. Parents should promise in writing that they will own up to any damages, costs, and taxes incurred by a minor at a lodging establishment and its furnishings. In cases where a valid credit card is not an option, the parent is required to provide the innkeeper with a deposit not exceeding $500. The payment caters for any damages or charges caused by the minor towards a lodging establishment or its furnishing. This deposit may be refunded if it is not used to cover damages as determined by the innkeeper following room inspection once a client checks out.
19. Bury your pet promptly
If your pet dies, you may want some time to mourn and make proper preparations to give it a decent burial. In the Beehive State, pet owners can bury their deceased pets properly but have to do it within 48 hours. Burying of pets in the backyard is allowed, provided you own the property. The law also recommends burying the animal three feet underground.
18. Strictly, no elephant hunting
Did you know that elephant hunting is illegal in Utah? It is one of many weird Utah laws still on the books. The Utah Legislature passed a law in 1909 that made it illegal to hunt elephants. Its unintended consequence of this law is that no one can legally kill an elephant for any reason in the State of Utah.
17. No selling alcohol in an emergency
Utah has stringent alcohol regulation laws. Some cities prohibit the sale of alcohol altogether. If you often run to the pub at the first hint of a problem, Utah may not be the ideal State for you. The law states that an individual may not sell, supply, offer to sell, or furnish alcoholic products in an area, during an emergency whose existence is proclaimed by the governor.
16. Throw rocks elsewhere
One of the weirder laws in Utah forbids residents from throwing rocks at cars. The law was put in place to avoid annoying pedestrians and travelers. The only exception is getting permission from the property owner. Throwing stones or rocks at vehicles is an annoying habit, and therefore, obeying this law may be a good idea.
15. Biting is not allowed in a boxing match
According to Justia US Laws, specific rules define how you can or cannot beat your opponent in a boxing match. Biting, striking an individual who demonstrates the inability to protect themselves, using anything that is not a part of the body, is against the law. Individuals who promote, publicize, engage, or conduct an ultimate fighting match are guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
14. Whale hunting is not allowed
One weird law in Utah that is real concerns whale-hunting. Capturing a whale in Utah is illegal, and this ban has existed since 1970. The law protects the whales and promotes conservation efforts. In the real sense, whales are unlikely to survive in the Great Salt Lake since whales live in the ocean and the ocean is nowhere near Utah.
13. Do not prank police officers
Making prank phone calls to police officers is illegal in Utah. According to Utah Criminal Law, issuing a fake bomb threat and other prank calls involving mass threats is a criminal offense. Individuals should not call a police officer and pretend to be a victim of a crime. If you inform these law officers about an emergency and provide a different address, you will be guilty of a fourth-degree felony. The law was enacted in 2013 and is relevant to those who make a prank call to an emergency number. Do not take this lightly! Violators could face up to 1.5 years in jail, a fine of $ 10,000, or both.
12. Marrying a cousin is illegal
Utah is one of the few States where it is illegal for cousins to marry. If you want to get married and live in this State, you should date outside of the family. However, there are some exceptions, like in cases where both parties are 65 years and above, or at least 55 years old, and the local district court has approved that either party cannot reproduce. The law helps prevent incest and defects, likely to occur when close blood relatives have children together.
11. No drinks in restaurants unless you order food
Guests in Utah restaurants need to order food alongside their alcoholic beverages, even if they are in a hurry. Liquor stores have beer-only licenses, but if you are looking for refreshing alcohol at a restaurant in Utah, nobody will serve you until you order some food. Serving alcoholic beverages to customers without an additional food order is against the law. Stealing bread baskets from another table does not work in the Beehive State. There is no specification on how much food a patron can order.
10. You cannot pester certain workers
If you are in Price city, Utah, do not think about speaking or bothering a city engineer while at work. In the rare case that you might come across a milkman, make sure you give them personal space. Any communication from these workers needs to be initiated by them, not you.
9. Strictly, no weather modification
Did you know that it is illegal to modify the weather in Utah without a permit? Believe it or not, this is an existing law in our State. If you are caught tampering with the weather, you could face serious consequences. Weather modifications can include cloud seeding, which increases snow or rain, and helps enhance the local water supply. Be sure to check with the proper authorities before you try to bring on a little rain or snow.
8. Do not open your container of alcohol in the car
It is illegal to have an open container of alcohol inside a vehicle that is on public roads. This includes cars parked on private property, such as a driveway. Utah law states that no person shall have any alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a motor vehicle. That includes glove compartments, under seats, and in the trunk. The only exception is if the container is full and sealed or if you’re pulling over for a break. An open container of your favorite alcoholic drink in the car can attract up to 90 days’ jail term and a $750 fine, which is actually a common law in most states. No open containers.
7. Liquor stores do not open on Sundays
Whiskey, rum, vodka, and other distilled spirits are sold in liquor stores. Also, they are the only places to buy your favorite wine or beer above 5% ABV. These stores remain closed on Sundays and reopen Monday through Saturday. In addition, your favorite liquor store will not open on all federal and State holidays. If you must take alcohol on Sundays, Christmas, or Thanksgiving, you can try your luck with licensed distillers.
6. Do not cause a catastrophe
According to the Utah State code, chapter 76a, section 3011, causing a catastrophe due to recklessness makes you guilty of a C misdemeanor. Causing any sort of catastrophe in Utah is illegal. Do you know what qualifies as a catastrophe? Well, the State’s criminal code defines a catastrophe as the use of weapons of mass destruction, fire, avalanche, explosion, the collapse of a building, flood, and other destructive force, or harmful substance that can lead to widespread damage or injury. This may appear in the list of weird Utah laws, and the language sounds funny, but if you look at it carefully, it makes lots of sense. The legal clause deals with people who cause explosions, fires, floods, and other issues that hurt others and cause property damages.
5. 2 Liters of beer is enough
Retain licensees may not sell, offer to sell, or furnish beer in containers whose size exceeds two littles. You can buy a Budweiser larger (300ml), Double Rye (750ml), one liter of Beehive Vodka, or a 650ml beer bomber. On the other hand, nobody will sell you a sixth barrel (19 liters) or a30L Pony Keg unless you are a licensed retailer. That may not be a huge surprise. Do you know that mini bottles (below 200ml) are also illegal? You would rather buy that 750 ml vodka than those tiny bottles of liquor.
4. Riding a bike is no circus
In Utah, you are prohibited from riding a bike without touching the handlebars, regardless of your prowess in cycling. The law dictates that at least one hand should be touching the bars. You might think this is common sense, but there are plenty of people who have been ticketed for breaking this law. Breaking this law could result in fines. Bicycle enthusiasts can get away with sipping their coffee while peddling, but one hand needs to touch the bars.
3. No sheepherding on street corners
There are a lot of strange laws in Utah, but the law prohibiting herding animals on a street corner is pretty unique. Driving a herd of animals in this State is only permissible if you get consent from the mayor. There was an incident where sheepherders were allowed to herd their sheep across the street without any interference, resulting in some traffic problems and unhappy motorists. In response, lawmakers passed legislation to prevent livestock, llamas, emus, and other hoofed animals from being herded on city streets.
2. Ensure your horse is under control
Keep your horse corralled, or it will be considered a public nuisance. You need to confine your horses in Utah. If animals are left to stray, they can cause lots of damage to property, humans, and other animals. Do not let your horse run free in Utah, or the State will be forced to capture and sell it. The county legislative body eliminates all abandoned horses through the most economical and effective means possible. Also, the law dictates that horse owners will be liable for the damages or injury caused by their horses. Animals need proper food and water, shelter from the elements, and protection from predators. This legislation is actually in place to ensure the safety of domestic animals. The issue of straying horses was a huge problem a century ago, and it is not clear why this law is still in the books.
1. Bringing liquor into Utah is like trafficking Afghan heroin
The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC) has the sole mandate for importing all alcoholic beverages. Liquor is expensive in Utah, but you cannot stock up on alcohol in another State and bring it here. If you come from a foreign country, you can keep a few liters for personal use. Individuals who have a second residence outside the State can get DABC’s approval to bring some booze. You have to pay a fee and bring alcohol once. Accredited foreign diplomatic missions or inheritances can seek clearance. The 20 weird laws in Utah outlined in this article are a source of amusement and portray the State’s conservative nature. They are influenced by the Church teachings and the Mormon culture in the Beehive State. This is evident in the strict law against alcohol consumption, where it is illegal to buy, sell or consume any form of alcohol in some cities. In addition, some of the strange laws in Utah are a reaction to real-life incidents, while others result from the State’s culture and history.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson