Strange New Laws in 2013

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Mar 11, 2013

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We’ve all heard of the strange laws that were filed decades ago that were never taken off the books. In Arizona, for example, an old city ordinance dictates that it is illegal to wear suspenders. But weird new laws? We have those too. 

In January 2013, thousands of laws went into effect all over the country. Here are just a few that might make you wonder:

  • In California, it is now against the law to let your dog chase a bobcat or a bear. Who was previously allowing their pup to pursue a bear is questionable, but in any case, it’s now illegal. 
  • In Wellington, Kansas, people are limited by law to four cats per household. This is seemingly a move to control pet populations, but with already-established mandatory spay or neuter laws, one might wonder why a particular town would need the extra push. (Perhaps Wellington carries a high demographic rate of single female senior citizens?) 
  • In the State of New York, it became illegal this year for two or more people to gather in public while wearing masks or disguises covering their faces. So much for that big Halloween bash you were planning to hold in Time Square. 
  • In the Sunshine State, drivers can now legally use headlights to alert oncoming drivers that police are lurking around the corner with speed traps. Florida residents unite! 
  • Back to California: one new law legalizes driverless vehicles. A person must be present in the passenger seat, but aside from that, I think we’ve officially entered The Future. 
  • North Carolina passed regulation making it a felony offense (punishable by steep fines and possible jail time) to steal unused cooking oil valued at more than $1,000. So think twice before you rob a Kentucky Fried Chicken in North Carolina.

While it’s hard to see sometimes, the majority of laws have a legitimate purpose behind their passing. Some may seem strange but to the California dog owner who had a run-in with a bear, or the North Carolina restaurant owner who was robbed of $1,000 worth of grease, these probably seem perfectly within reason. Laws are intended to improve society, not always for each member, but if they make life easier for even a small group of citizens, without necessarily affecting the rest, well I say—weird or not—they are an important element of any well-rounded nation.

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