Six Crazy Laws #4

Did you sing this article’s tag line like Bobby Fuller? I hope you did!

Welcome back to CraveOnline's salute to the strangest legal oddities our great country has to offer. Of course we don't know how many, if even any, of these laws are enforced anymore, but the fact that they even existed is a wonderful window back to our past… our racist, sexist, strangely fearful past. Yes, each one of these laws is a story. In most cases it’s a story about a time something stupid happened and then a bunch of reactionary people made a law about it that makes little or no sense. In that way this article celebrates the socio-political climate that created the film Footloose. So everybody cut loose… Footloose… on these examples of laws relevant to cars.

Naturally, I should point out here again that we have no way of verifying these laws are still around. Nor am I a lawyer. Nope, not even a little bit. The only way we considered for checking these laws is to try and break them. So, if you're wondering why this article comes so long after our last crazy laws piece… well lets just say I was on vacation…with parole.  This one goes out to a buddy, a man close to my heart and just one bunk away.  Hi, Rocko.

First, let’s visit the South for two crazy car laws, one strange and one strangely sexist. If you want to hum dueling banjos to yourself while you read these, well that'd be just fine with me.

#1: In Alabama its LEGAL to drive the wrong way on a one way street if you have a lantern on the front of your car.

Clearly this law is from a time when, inexplicably, nobody had lights on their cars at all. I mean obviously it can't be current or the "one way" street rule in Alabama would be a bit of a joke. Whats more disturbing then allowing people to go the wrong way down a one way street (beyond all the bad analogies that brings up) is that there was the light-less car time. What a wonderful world that must have been when in the pitch blackness of a pre-streetlight street a mysterious rumbling announced the arrival of a 45mph death machine with no lights, prehistoric breaks, and a driver who just bought this car last week as a novelty. You have to wonder if they created this law as an incentive to put lights on your freaking car. Not sure you want to buy those expensive headlights? Well what if we told you that you could go the wrong way down a one way street? How about that, Jethro? Not so expensive now, are they?  Also, there would be a lot less deaths…

#2: In Louisiana It is illegal for a woman to drive a car unless her husband is running ahead waving a flag in front of it.

Before you write an angry letter to the Louisianan government about this law, I should point out this was not an uncommon law in the rest of the States. I have found this law listed in probably 10 states, and that’s without really trying. If you're wondering where the old joke that women are bad drivers comes from, look no further than your state government. What weirds me out about this law is that it’s either from a time where cars were so slow a man could jog in front of it with a flag with little trouble… or… more likely… it’s from a time when the car could easily go faster but this limited a women’s ability to reach any sort of dangerous speeds.  So, for all you women who feel like this world has it out for you, at least you can drive a car without having to marry an Olympic runner to sprint out ahead of it. You’ve got that going for you. Now, I wonder how many men were so in love with their wives that they led them proudly through town waving a flag like a college football cheerleader. "Ok honey, I'll let you drive the car to your parent’s house but afterwords, you know how you have to pay me back." (the answer is “cooking!”… what?!?!)

#3: In Milwaukee, Wisconsin an ordinance forbids parking for over two hours unless a horse is tied to the car.

Paydirt!  We found it, the law that makes so little sense even I can't imagine why they wrote it. Was traffic so bad in Milwaukee they decided to render cars into mobile horse hitches? Or was this just a way to double park horses and cars without causing any trouble? You know those people who order realistic dummies to put in their car so they can use the carpool lane? Well was their ancestor the Milwaukeeian who brought a stuffed horse around in his back seat so he could park long enough to see a Charlie Chaplin movie? That was the original double parking whammy. You get back to your car to find out your horse has run off. Then to ad insult to injury it caused you to get a parking ticket. Wow. What a world to live in.

Here's a similarly strange law from New York City:

Bonus: In NYC, New York, cars must be tethered outside of public buildings.

Of course this law must not be enforced anymore, because, if it possibly could be, you KNOW the city would be ticketing as many people as they could. It’s a strange concept, hitching up your CAR. I wonder if it’s a real window into men’s ignorance that lawmakers, familiar only with horses, figured they had to treat cars the same way. "Well if we don't make it the law that they have to tie up their cars, what’s the stop the cars from wandering the street or getting into trouble?" Clearly this law had to go when cars got big enough to break their own tethers and run amok. You ever try to chain up a Toyota Tacoma? Those things will not stay the hitching post. Gotta use battleship chain. And they won’t keep their feed bag on, either.

#4: In Coeur d'Alene, Idaho if a police officer approaches a vehicle and suspects that the occupants are engaging in sex, he must either honk, or flash his lights and wait for three minutes before approaching the car.

Well, isn’t that nice of the fine government of Idaho to let you finish up before you get busted. I bet this causes a lot of fights in couples:

WOMAN:     "You never take care of MY needs ,Frank!"

MAN:           "What?!?! You heard the cop honking, we only had three minutes!"

WOMAN:     "You could have at least tried."

MAN:           "You know that never works for you… besides… I got uh… startled."

This law was created, of course, to allow you some decency, I.E. to let you get your clothes back on. Letting you finish the act of coitus is just a bonus. Another bonus, in a world where this law is followed: you don't get your naked butt filmed by COPS. But that's not the only car-sex law I found:

Bonus #2: In Clinton, Oklahoma  there is a law against masturbating while watching two people having sex in a car.

Yep.. that really existed (or may even still exist). I have no idea how that law got on the books but I might suggest that at the time it was created the mayor of Clinton may have had more than a few back seat trysts. Still, it seems like a strange thing to legislate against; maybe the town had a real control issue and when two people would go at it the whole population would grind to a halt and start going at it. I think I saw a porn like that once, or if not I'm going to write one. Oh… <Insert Clinton Joke Here> and thank you!

#5: A regulation in San Francisco, California  makes it unlawful to use used underwear to wipe off cars in a car wash.  

Another law whose origin had best remain a mystery. I would imagine around the time this law came about there was at least one city official who's car smelled like shit. But seriously, does this need to be a law? I’ll tell you this:   if you try and wipe dirty underpants on my car at a car wash, I assure you the law won't need to enter into it. It’s laws like that which make me wonder what humanity is coming to.

This comes down to my "one jerk" theory:  Somewhere in San Fran was ONE jerk who made this law necessary. Just like someplace in middle America is the ONE jerk who made it necessary to have a law that makes it illegal to wash out the office coffee pot with pee. Ug. Of course dirty underwear is not the biggest problem some people have in San Francisco… to leave the car issue for just one second:

BONUS: Also in San Francisco: Persons classified as "ugly" may not walk down any street.

Yo’ mama's so ugly, she can't walk down a street in San Francisco without breaking the law. BLAMO! PS: I can't help but wonder what government body was responsible for classifying folks as ugly. I also can't help but wonder if the people who work for that government body often had their car cleaned with dirty underpants.

#6: Also in California it is a misdemeanor to shoot at any kind of game from a moving vehicle, unless the target is a whale.

OK, I assume the term “moving vehicle” here must also refer to boats. At least I hope it does. I’d hate to have guys gunning their convertibles up and down the highway taking sniper shots at whales in the ocean nearby. Plus, once they bag one, how are they going to go get it? You can’t really strap an Orca to your fender.  It’s strange to think that at the time cars first became popular, there was still a lobby in the legislature that tried to make sure no laws accidentally made it more illegal to go WHALING in the state of California. Plus how many whaling ships were getting pulled over by cops?

COP (with Irish accent):      “Do you know how fast you were going there, laddy?”

WHALING FISHERMAN:     “30 Knots”

COP (same irish accent):     “And did you see the speed limit signs?”

WHALING FISHERMAN:     “How did your squad car make it out here?”

Anyway, the point is that, thankfully, whaling is fully illegal now (hear that, Japan?) and we don’t need to worry about that particular clause in that anachronistic law. That said, if Sarah Palin ever comes to Cali, let’s see if we can’t get her to do her famous wolf hunting by helicopter again. Won’t she have egg on her face when we arrest her for this violation. Maybe she’ll say she had meant to shoot whales?

Ok Ok… one more…

BONUS: Still in California: no vehicle without a driver may exceed 60 miles per hour.

Well DUH!

OK legal eagles. Keep it tuned here for more crazy laws in the future. As long as I can keep finding strange and poorly thought out laws, and I can keep my butt out of prison, they’ll always be here for your laughing pleasure at CraveOnline.com.


MORE CRAZY LAWS:  LAWS 1LAWS 2LAWS 3