Did you know that an average person breaks at least three different federal laws every day? Also, are you aware that one out of three Americans has a police record? American laws are based on cases, so you probably broke a couple immediately after getting up. Some crimes are more evident than others, and every law in the American jurisdiction system has a history behind it. For example, the law forbidding wrestling with alligators was made because someone actually did it. The idea behind every regulation is to keep citizens safe and in check within boundaries set by the government. However, we broke some weird American laws at least once. Let's see the top of the crop of those pesky laws.
10. Loud Afterhours
This one is the most obvious of the bunch. You commit a crime if you make noise in your home after certain hours. Each American state has designated quiet hours, usually between 10 PM to 8 AM. During that time, any noise that disturbs the peace, including music, TV, movies, and even vacuum cleaners, is illegal.
The hours for this law vary from state to state. Nevertheless, you are obligated to keep it down during the said hours. Otherwise, your neighbors have the right to file a complaint against you. And for every day of the disturbance, your neighbors may receive $30 compensation. Although, it's up to them to prove the noise from your place is louder than allowed. That's an excellent reason to pipe it down after coming home from a wild night out.
9. Fake Accounts On Social Media
At least once, everyone made a fake social media account to pull some shenanigans. It might be catfishing or posing as a fake person or celebrity; the possibilities are limited by our imagination only! However, if you did it, and we know you did, you committed a crime. By federal law, creating a fake account is illegal.
Making a social media account to impersonate someone is qualified by federal law as identity theft. Therefore, the perpetrators are punishable by law with fines and even prison sentences. You can freely add that to any counts of copyright infringement, and you would get yourself into quite a pickle. Actually, it's illegal to post any work of art without the owner's permission. The punishment depends on the influence of that fake account and how many people are affected by it.
8. Teenagers And Permanent Markers
Graffiti is the favorite form of artistic expression for many subcultures worldwide. They originated in the 1960s and spread all over. Artists and political activists used graffiti to express their minds, and hip-hop embraced it as a part of their subculture. Graffiti became so widespread that in 1971 the government brought anti-graffiti law as a part of the criminal act.
Since then, spray paint cans and permanent markers have been concealed behind the glass door in the markets. Furthermore, it's illegal for teenagers to buy and possess permanent markers on any property, public or private. The most recent case happened in 2013 when a student was reported and arrested because he owned one. However, this law received significant pushback, saying it's the oppression of poor communities, expression, and freedom of speech.
7. Tiny Homes Elude the Fourth Amendment
Tiny homes are a perfect solution for individuals who want to travel around the country and keep the comfort of a house. The problem is some American states forbid them. The reason behind that is the Fourth Amendment, which allows people to be safe from unreasonable searches of their "persons, houses, and effects." However, there's a gray area about what could be considered a house. Obviously, a house is defined by its structure of roof and walls, which tiny homes sometimes elude.
In preventing the abuse of the Fourth Amendment, some states altogether banned transportable homes. Others forbade dwelling in structures smaller than 400 square feet. Therefore, before you decide to get in your tiny home or camper and hit the road, you better check the regulations of the state you're heading to.
6. Snowballs And We Mean Snow
The best thing about the snow is the many ways you can enjoy it. Not only does the snow give a magical overlay to every landscape, but you can play with it in various ways. You can ski, snowboard, slide, or make a snowman or angel. Yet, the most popular snow activity is snowball fights. Well, what if we told you that they are illegal?
Yes, you heard it right. It is illegal to have a snowball fight in the States. The main reason is that the intent of hitting someone with a snowball is considered an assault. And this is not just on paper since some arrests were for pelting people with snowballs. Although it varies by jurisdiction, throwing a snowball into another person is a proper apprehension of an imminently dangerous or harsh act. You can only hope the patrolling officer will be merciful enough not to arrest you for it.
5. Air Fresh Ornaments Are a No-No
Yes, we all love the pine forest smell while driving. Well, guess what? Using a smelly pine cone that hangs from your rearview mirror is prohibited by law. Furthermore, any object hanging from the rearview mirror is illegal. Also, the law doesn't allow anything that blocks your view through the windshield. Behind that soothingly smelly cardboard pine might be a pedestrian, stopped vehicle, or other road hazards.
Windshield obstruction law is clear about not having "any thing or fabric placed, exhibited, lodged, attached, or used in a manner that blocks or decreases a driver's clear view." Basically, anyone who puts anything on any glass surface in a car commits a criminal offense. That includes the side and rear windows and all the rear mirrors.
4. Car Idling
So you just wanted to stop your car and wait for someone with your engine running? Well, guess what? You're a criminal now! Also, that's called car idling, and it's a punishable offense. Leaving your engine running while stationary for more than five minutes would get you in trouble with the law. Let's hope that the idling law doesn't work on freeways. Additionally, will you get punished if you run out of gas?
Some states even got more strict. It's unimportant how long your car is idling, as even a second of running stationary engines is considered a misdemeanor. That's because idling creates a lot of air pollution, and it isn't necessary. Most engines need only half a minute to warm up before moving. Even during winter, an average car needs a minute or two to sufficiently warm up.
3. Cursing And Swearing
So, you decided to let's have a little steam with good old swearing? And you did it so other people could hear you? Congratulations, you're a criminal. Joking aside, if you're swearing so other people notice, that qualifies as disturbing the peace. Anything that disturbs a tranquil public space environment with inappropriate behavior upsetting people is considered disturbing peace.
Although, swearing is rarely singled out as an offense. It's usually accompanied by fighting, environmental damage, and property destruction. However, swearing is a crime, even when paired with loud laughing and unruly behavior. Some argue about freedom of expression, but you should consider keeping that Yo Momma joke for yourself.
2. Chewing Gum
What, chewing gum is illegal too? Well, no, at least not by itself, unlike in Singapore. However, spitting chewing gum in public places is a heavy offense in many states. Therefore, you're eligible for severe punishment if you spit chewing gum on a sidewalk, street, or highway. You could end up in prison for more than six months or pay over $2000 of fines.
The same works for throwing a cigarette butt anywhere except on your private property. The reason behind these weird USA laws is the set of environmental protection measures. Therefore, be careful where you put away your used cigs and bubble gum. Some places dislike gums so much they forbid selling, including Disneyland. In short, be careful about where you throw your gum, but don't gulp it either.
1. Happy Birthday To - What?
Did you notice that whenever there's a birthday party at a restaurant or any other public place, the servers never sing the original "Birthday Song"? The song you'd hear is recognizable enough but also different. There's a good reason behind it, as the original "Birthday Song" is forbidden to play in public places.
This classic song has been copyrighted ever since 1933. Moreover, in 1988 Warner Brothers purchased the company owning the copyright. That's why you will not notice "Birthday Song" in many books, movies, and commercials. The current value of the song is about five million dollars, so be ready for some serious cash out if you intend to use the "Birthday Song" in your work. Thankfully, you can still use it at home for birthday parties.
Most laws are very logical, and you can understand why they exist. However, not every regulation is that obvious. Therefore, some weird US laws literally make every citizen a criminal. Guess you can't help but break the law no matter what you do!
What's your favorite bizarre American law? Which one would you add to the list?