Stupid laws you have encountered that are actually enforced?

This isn’t about those lists of strange laws that claim that it is illegal to take a bath on Sundays in Alabama. This is about real life laws that are not only bizarre, but also enforced.

I have two:

  1. My wife and I went out to eat at a TGI Friday’s in Woburn, MA. It was busy when we went in so we sat at the bar. We got our drinks and then the hostess came over to show us to our table. We stood up with drinks in hand ready to walk to our table and then … panic from the staff. Another bartender rushed from beside the bar and explained to us that we couldn’t carry our own drinks to the table. It is illegal to stand while holding a drink in Woburn, MA. Over time, we noticed that when we went to a restaurant/bar there they had a notice about this posted on the wall.

  2. Massachusetts, like most states, lets you pump your own gas. I usually go to one of two stations in Milford, MA near my house. A few weeks ago, I went to one of my normal stations, got out, and tried to start the pump. An attendant came over and told me that I couldn’t pump my own gas there anymore. I asked why and he told me that there is actually an ordinance against self-service fillups in Milford but it had never really been enforced. The town Fire Marshall had gotten angry with the owner of that station and decided to stake it out one Friday night and write a fine for every offense. He got a ton of them. The ridiculous part is that none of the other self-service stations are affected. The law is selectively applied to this one only. I go to the other one and fcontinue to fill it up myself.

In Indiana, we have some odd alcohol laws. You can’t buy cold beer in a grocery store, for example.

The big :smack: , though, comes with the Public Intoxication law. It’s entirely the policeman’s call. If he busts you for DUI, he has to give you a Breathalyzer test (if you refuse, you lose your license, right there. However, for PI, the policeman just has to say that you, in his opinion, were impaired. If you demand a Breathalyzer, he doesn’t have to give you one. You simply can’t beat a Public Intoxication charge.

The whole, “Can’t pump your own gas in Oregon” still blows my mind. Every time I roll thru there and hop out of the vehicle, clearly licenced in another state, and go for the pump, it blows my mind that Leroy still shuffles out of the shack and, eventually when he finally gets to the car, tells me he has to do it. I always point out that if he had been around two minutes ago when I actually needed to get started, he would have been welcome to. I also always ask why, and to date have not gotten any kind of consenses as to the origin of the law.

Another time, in South Carolina, I was killing a left over beer in my carry-on while waiting for a flight in the airport. An airport cop told me I had to finish it (huh? what the point of that then?) or throw it away. I asked him why. He said, “Its Sunday in South Carolina.” I refrained from the next obvious question, killed the brew and waited for him to shuffle off before opening the next one.

See? Folks shuffle on both coasts.

Didn’t see this before I posted, but it reminds me of another story:

Washington. You can get damn near any beer you want at the Safeway, but not Gin. (Wife likes Gin once in a while)

So I leave the store, figuring I’ll just get it all together, avoiding one wait in line. Drive around looking for a “Liquer Store” from the direction of an obvious Non-Drinker. Find it, walk in and…NO BEER! Well, shit! Okay, I’ll just drink with the wife tonight. NO MIXER!

Looks like I’m going back to the store. Safeway in Washington has an outstanding selection of beers if anybody cares.

They’re really serious about not letting you park on YOUR OWN DAMNED GRASS here witihin the city limits. The grass YOU own. Your grass. That grows on your dirt. You can’t have a dirt driveway, either - gotta be gravel or whatever.

Oh, and I don’t know why you couldn’t drink your beer in the airport - you’re perfectly free to drink in bars and restaurants on Sunday, you just can’t buy it at the store. Stupid? You betcha, but as blue laws go it’s hardly the worst. In Lexington County, you can be at Wal-Mart (which, recall, is open 24-7) at midnight on a Saturday night and watch them put yellow tape around the areas of the store where you may not buy things until 1:00 on Sunday afternoon. Not just liquor - apparel, accessories - most of the store. You can’t buy these things until the appropriate time. I get (barely, in the same way as I get strange tribal rituals among New Guinean tribespeople) why you might want to close businesses if you thought people wanted to go to church, but these people at Wal-Mart have to work anyway! They just can’t sell you the pantyhose you need to go to the kind of church where they give a rat’s ass if you buy pantyhose from Wal-Mart at 3 in the morning!

Yeah, that one really burns my biscuits. And I don’t see why the hell I can’t buy beer at the grocery store on Sunday either. (But yes, here also the liquor store does not sell beer or wine. A real liquor store will have a beer and wine store attached, however. With a separate entrance.)

But hey, my Pennsylvania cousins think we’re all backwards, and there you can’t buy beer at the grocery store at all! Any day of the week! You have to go to the beer distributor or the bar! So you go to the bar and you buy a six pack?! Crazy. I mean, we’re not that screwed up here. Only on Sundays.

Ad a disabled man in Oregon, I love that I don’t have to search for s full service place.

That makes sense really. It make the neighborhood look trashy and encouarges abandonment of cars. We have Codes that require you to cut your lawn & stuff, too. Same deal.

Here’s a weird one- in most of CA- you can park in a Loading Zone after 6PM. Not in San Jose or SF. Why?- mainly because they want the revenue for parking tickets.

the one that gets me and was inforced here in aus a few months ago quite heavily is

You can have ANYTHiNG even slightly blocking your view in your car.
Which means if you have an air freshener hanging fromt eh rear view mirror, thats a $500 on the spot fine. I got hit by this but the cop just said take it off now, before my SGT walks over.

The other one is having anything protruding from the car. Im the kinda person that likes to drive with my elbow on the indow sill or arm sort of half out the window. Yup thats another $500 fine. We have fairly hot summers here in sydney so why cant i. I mean they kind of make sense but they get taken tot he extreme

The first example that came to mind was the cussing canoeist controversy that happened in Michigan a few years ago.

Well, I have no problem with the “red tag on non-running car means you best move it in seven days” rule. Or the lawn care rules. The new ordinance we found out about when we went to do our new addition that we can only build on 30% of our own land is a little irritating, especially since many of our historical neighborhoods will be unable to add anything to their houses, but hey. I have a problem with the fact that here in the city many people have, for example, had their on-street parking done away with by city road projects, but they’re not allowed to park on the grass. Where exactly are they supposed to park? Should they have to put in a driveway at their expense because the city changed the road? What about when I have a party at one of these hypothetical houses - I can’t have people park on my own grass? They’ll get towed on the street, there’s nowhere to park more than the one car often. It’s a big problem for people who live in town (and the city wants people to move back in town, too.)

You know, I got caught for the same thing at the very same Friday’s in Woburn a few years back. They told me that it was illegal to drink anything alcoholic while standing. Of course, they had to enforce that by preventing you from standing with the drink in your hand. The purported reason for such laws is (believe it or not) to cut down on drunkeness - since a bar can only hold as many people as it has ass space for. My own town in the same area as Woburn had the same law, but in a shocking town vote repealed it two years ago.

Bergen County New Jersey has (or had, my info is a couple years old) some pretty strict blue laws about what can and cannot be sold on Sundays.

Periodicals (newspapers, magazines) can be sold.

Most other goods - including things like books - cannot be sold on Sundays.

Which means that on a Sunday, you can purchase copies of Playboy, Hustler etc. - but you can NOT purchase a Bible :confused:

Wow, that is a coincidence. Glad to know that I am not the only one to vouch for that. I am also glad to hear that they repealed the law.

Wait, you got service at the TGI Friday’s in Woburn? I thought they didn’t know what that word meant. Granted it’s been three of four years since I’ve been there, but it’s always sucked. Go to On the Border, across the street, much better.

MA has dumb alcohol laws. You can’t buy liquor on Sundays where my parents live, in Waltham, as it’s just west of Waltham, but you can where I live in Lowell, as it is near the border. WTF?

Just to expand on this stupid law…you can buy as much beer as you want at a bar or “six-pack shop”, but you can only buy a 12 pack at a time. Which means if you want a case of beer, you have to buy a 12 pack, go outside and put the 12er in your car of give it to your friend, and then go get the other one.

You can only buy a case of beer at a beer distributor…and forget about getting a case of beer on Sunday. But the started opening Liquor Stores on Sundays. So you can drink buy all the whiskey or beer you want on Sunday, but don’t expect to get that beer in case form.

In Vermont, you cannot dance and drink at the same time. Which means that bars or clubs with dance spaces have to designate a clear separate “dance area” and enforce that people are not dancing while drinking. You can dance over to a table, and take a drink, but you better not still be shaking your booty when you take that sip.
In Vermont they also have those state liquor stores, which are closed on Sundays. Other stores can sell beer and wine but not sake or “malt beverages” for whatever reason, and you can’t get sherry at the grocery store either. So if you want to cook with some sherry on a Sunday, you’d better buy it the day before or you are screwed.

Visited NYC a couple of years back, traveling with some musician friends. They played at a club, but there was no room to dance while the band was playing. I asked a waitress about it, and she said they weren’t licensed for dancing.

Or did I hear her wrong?

People can dance when they’re not drinking? Wow, I don’t think I want to see that.

That was shot down by the court.

I’d have to go with drug laws.

Several months ago, the guys on the local talk radio station were going on about a town in north Jersey where it is against the law to eat in a parked car.

There were signs to that effect posted by the drive through windows at fast food restaurants, and many people called in to confirm that they or someone who they knew were nailed by the cops while munching down on a sub sandwich while parked in the shade on a pleasant spring afternoon.

I am not sure what the purpose of this ordinance is, other than generating revenue and pissing off the offenders. Some said that it might be an attempt at reducing littering.