• By: Hank Stout
  • Published: April 2014

Laws are supposed to be good for society. They help keep us safe and keep our communities orderly. But there are many laws still on the books today that are weird, ridiculous, or just plain crazy. This post will take a look at some of the most bizarre laws that remain in effect across a number of states.

In North Carolina, charity bingo games can’t last longer than five hours.

North Carolina has some of the strictest bingo laws in the country. You read that correctly – bingo laws.

In the Tar Heel state, charity bingo games cannot last longer than five hours. The North Carolina Department of Public Safety is charged with enforcing these rules, and even has a section on its website dedicated to non-profit bingo.

So if you’re in North Carolina and thinking about setting up a bingo game in the name of charity that lasts longer than a transcontinental flight, think again. You could be subject to an investigation by Alcohol and Law Enforcement special agents. According to their website, they investigate more than 100 bingo complaints every year.

In South Carolina, you must be 18 or older to play pinball.

Before stepping up to a pinball machine in South Carolina, you may be asked to show ID. South Carolina Code of Laws § 63-19-2430 provides:

It is unlawful for a minor under the age of eighteen to play a pinball machine.

It’s not entirely clear why pinball is considered to be an adults-only activity in South Carolina. But until you’re old enough to vote, don’t even think about trying to become a “Pinball Wizard.”

In one Georgia city, you must use only your hands when eating fried chicken.

In Gainesville, Georgia, a city ordinance provides that one must not use utensils of any kind when consuming fried chicken. The ordinance was passed as a publicity stunt in 1961 to promote Gainesville as the fried poultry capital of the world.

The ordinance reads in part that no one may partake in the crispy, deep-fried “culinary delicacy sacred to this municipality, this county, this state, the Southland and this republic” using anything but their fingers. Apparently, Gainesville did not consult Miss Manners before passing this regulation.

One woman was even “arrested” for breaking this law while celebrating her 91st birthday over some fried chicken at Gainseville’s Longstreet Cafe. It turned out to be a practical joke, and the charges against this elderly “lawbreaker” were dismissed.

In one Washington county, you cannot harass Bigfoot.

Believe it or not, Whatcom County in the state of Washington is a “Image of bingo balls courtesy of Flickr user elizaio pursuant to a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0 license.
Image of fried chicken courtesy of Flickr user stuart_spivack pursuant to a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

About the Author

Hank Stout is a founding partner at Sutliff & Stout, Injury & Accident Law Firm. Hank earned his doctor of jurisprudence from South Texas College of Law in 2004. He was recognized by SuperLawyers as a Rising Star from 2012-2014. He has earned a Superb rating by Avvo, and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To learn more, read Hank's full bio here.

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