Texting while driving, red light cameras, and many other new laws make abiding them more difficult than ever. However, with many old and outdated laws still in place while new ones arise, how do you separate myth from fact? Take a look at these 14 laws everyone believes are real, but which aren’t to see how savvy you are.
American Laws Everyone Believes Are Real
From dry counties to the Constitution, which laws make the reality cut?
- 1. Red Light Cameras Are Constitutional : Not if you let the voters decide on “innocent until proven guilty.” In cities and states where the vote has been left up to the public, it is overwhelmingly voted down, sometimes by as high as 86 percent. There are currently 14 states where automated ticketing is banned and many others have restrictions. The article contains those states and more information on the laws.
2. You Can’t Drink and Drive : While driving drunk is most certainly against the law, what about having a drink while you drive? According to Open Container Laws, all but eleven states have banned open containers of alcohol. While four states have partial bans, the states of Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Mississippi, Missouri, Virginia, and West Virginia have no laws restricting having a drink and driving.
3. What Happens in the Bedroom… : Minnesota has some strange laws about what a man does behind closed doors. Apparently it is illegal there for a man to have relations with a live fish. In this clip of the “So Graham Norton” show, he calls a police station to confess having committed this crime.
4. A License is Needed to Carry a Weapon : For many citizens a CCW (conceal and carry weapons) license is the only way to take a firearm with you. It often involves passing a criminal background check, paying a fee, and taking classes. However, in the state of Kentucky, citizens may carry weapons in their vehicle without any sort of license. According to KRS 527.020 , it can be stored in a glove compartment, or any other area in the car, regardless of whether the weapon is stored with or without a lock.
5. You Can Curse in Public : Not in Michigan. According to a law over 100 years old, it is illegal to curse in front of women or children. This blog tells the story of a guy who fell out of a canoe, swam to shore, and began cursing in the presence of a family. By the time the canoe got back to him, an officer was waiting to arrest the curser.
6. Law Abiding Citizens Can Have Guns in Their Homes : While this is true in most parts of the country, the on-again, off-again handgun ban of the Washington, D.C. area makes this practice illegal. In this short clip, a U.S. senator explains how this law now makes it legal for store owners to use a gun to protect their cash register, yet illegal to protect their property or family. This article has more on the why’s and how’s of the law.
7. I’ll have a Beer, She’ll Have Some Wine : Liquor laws vary from state to state and even county to county. Although there is an amendment in the Constitution forbidding prohibition, where, what, and how much is sold is still left to the local authority. In this case, in Arlington, TX, you can purchase a six pack of beer at the grocery store, but not a bottle of wine. Other laws in the state control percentage of alcohol allowed to be sold, as well as laws for restaurants. If your city is divided into two or more counties, the laws on sales of alcohol can also change.
International Laws Everyone Believes Are Real
Strange laws are not limited to the United States. Check out some of these bizarre and harrowing laws of foreign lands, along with their punishments.
- 8. Afghan Women Must Wear Burqas : A traditional Muslim garb, it covers the heads, faces, and sometimes entire body of the wearer. It is not officially required by the Afghan regime. However, in areas where the Taliban still have power, the law can still be enforced with shocking harshness.
9. Burqas Are Legal in France : Although Muslim women are allowed to wear them in certain areas, Nicholas Sorkozy and his administration enacted a law in 2004. It bans the wearing of the Islamic headscarf and even other conspicuous religious symbols from the public arena. This includes schools and other areas. President Sarkozy attested these laws are meant to keep women from being “prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity.”
10. Two Consenting Adults : This term has many interpretations in different countries, but in some, such as Iran, it has little to no meaning. In this country, there are many laws prohibiting the joining of two consenting adults. They include, but are not limited to, relationships between non-Muslim men with a Muslim woman, premarital sex, and homosexuality. The punishment for any of these can be anything from a fine to a public beating, harsh prison sentence, or even death.
11. What Happens in BLANK, Stays in BLANK : Not just a catchy travel slogan, it is also a fake law. Certain crimes, such as engaging in sexual conduct with a minor under the age of 18 years, are prosecutable in the United States, even if it happened overseas. In addition, there is the Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act of 1998. It makes it illegal for an U.S. citizen to transmit any information about a minor for criminal sexual purposes, including any sort of child pornography.
12. Caning is Done for Mouthing Off : After an incident in 1994 where an American traveler was sentenced to six canings in Singapore, the whole nation was engaged in foreign law. In reality, caning is a common punishment in the country and can be used against crimes such as vandalism and even illegal immigration. Offenses that are considered minor in the U.S., such as littering, spitting, and jaywalking can be taken very seriously there as well. Harsher laws include submission to random drug analysis and there are even mandatory death sentences for certain narcotic crimes.
13. Property Can Be Divided Among Children : Not in the merry old land of England. On a small island on the Channel named Sark, there was a 400 year old law banning this. It prohibited property owners from leaving the land to anyone else but the eldest son. The law was changed in 1999, to give the daughters of the owner the right to inherit the property. The article by the BBC also goes on to say how some of the residents are unhappy with this change.
14. How Many Australians to Change a Light Bulb? : In Victoria, only one. However, by law it must be a licensed electrician who is doing the unscrewing and screwing. The fine for changing your own light bulb can be as much as ten pounds. The article from “The Daily Telegraph” also goes on to list more ridiculous laws in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Although many of these laws may sound ridiculous, be sure to check with the local authority before engaging in any act that may be illegal or in these 14 laws everyone believes are real. They are constantly subject to change, and especially in the case of overseas travel, can have strict consequences.