Alabama joined the United States in 1819 as the 22nd state admitted into the union. The state features many beautiful landscapes and unique animal species. One feature of Alabama that is particularly interesting, though, is its plethora of weird and perhaps confusing laws. For instance, one of the bizarre laws in Alabama states that driving while blindfolded is illegal.
While this rule might seem obvious, officials included it to promote the importance of driving with an unobstructed view of the road. Like this bizarre law, other laws in Alabama may seem strange but were passed for important reasons. Discover seven bizarre laws in Alabama that are still against the law and find out the historical roots of these regulations.
4 Bizarre Laws in Alabama
The state of Alabama has several strange laws that make little sense within the modern world. In the past, though, some of these bizarre regulations served an important purpose in keeping people and property safe. Below are four bizarre laws in Alabama.
Salt on Railroad Tracks
In the past, livestock in Alabama wandered wherever they pleased, as Alabama was an open-range state. An open-range state allows livestock and cattle to roam freely, and any injury or damage to the livestock is the responsibility of the party involved, not the cattle owner’s responsibility. For instance, if a car hit and killed a cow, the owner of the cow would not be liable. Rather, the driver of the car would pay a fee for the cow’s life, as the cow could roam freely in an open-range state.
In Alabama, though, some livestock owners manipulated the system decades ago. Sick, injured, or dying cattle and livestock were of no value to ranchers and farmers. No one would buy sick livestock, and the cattle could not provide any services or goods to their owners. Therefore, livestock owners needed to find a way to make money from their dying cattle. Thus, owners would place salt on railroad tracks, which attracted cattle. Cattle that wandered onto the tracks in search of salt would be hit by a train, and the railroad company would have to pay market value for the animal.
Since the train usually left the animal unrecognizable after impact, no one could prove that the animal was sick and, thus, worth less than market value. Therefore, the railroad company would pay full price for the ill, deceased cow, and the owner would have successfully scammed the railroad company. Thus, Alabama created a law that prohibited the act of putting salt on railroad tracks. The law aimed to deter livestock owners from scamming railroad companies into paying full price for sick animals. In addition, the consequence of breaking the law could result in the death of the perpetrator.
While Alabama has a plethora of laws protecting the wildlife and habitats of the state, regulations also mention bear wrestling. In Alabama, bear exploitation is illegal, specifically the use of bears in wrestling matches. In fact, promoting or engaging in any bear wrestling match is a Class B felony.
Furthermore, the possession, training, purchase, or sale of a bear for wrestling is illegal. The law derives from an old Alabama pastime in which bears went head-to-head in wrestling matches. Now, though, many consider bear wrestling, alongside many other forms of animal fighting, unethical and harmful to wildlife.
Ice Cream Cone Placement
In Alabama, it is illegal to carry an ice cream cone in the back pocket of your pants while walking down the street. Although this highly specific law seems like a sticky, inconvenient mess, the action once served a criminal purpose. Perhaps surprisingly, horses enjoy ice cream. In fact, horses like ice cream so much that they would follow it if it passed them on the street. Thus, criminals who attempted to steal horses would put ice cream cones in the back pocket of their pants, and horses would follow them.
If law enforcement caught a horse thief, the criminal could claim that the horse followed them and that they did not intentionally steal the animal. Thus, law enforcement could not prove that these horse thieves had committed any theft, so they had to outwit the criminals. As a result, officials banned the positioning of ice cream in the back pocket of pants, and the law disrupted this form of horse thievery.
Another strange law in the state of Alabama claims that pretending to be a clergyman or any minister of any religion, such as a nun or priest, is illegal. In fact, dressing up as a minister, priest, nun, or rabbi in a public setting is considered a misdemeanor. Consequences for such action include a maximum $500 fine or a maximum sentence of one year in jail. Alabama residents planning on dressing up as a minister, a nun, or another clergy member for Halloween this year might want to reconsider after finding out about this odd law.
3 Blue Laws in Alabama
A blue law refers to a law banning something or prohibiting a certain action on Sundays or religious holidays. Most blue laws target the sale and purchase of alcohol. For instance, a state’s blue law regarding alcohol may determine that selling hard liquor, like vodka or rum, on Sunday is illegal. However, the blue law might allow for the sale of beer or wine on Sunday. Below are three blue laws in Alabama that ban certain actions and goods on Sundays.
Fake Mustaches in Church
During church services on Sunday, it is illegal to wear a fake mustache. We may never know why anyone would wear a fake mustache to a church service, but Alabama outlawed the act, nevertheless. This blue law aims to deter people from laughing in church, and everyone knows that the adorning of a fake mustache would result in upheavals of laughter from the church pews. Needless to say, this blue law is ambiguous and, perhaps, unnecessary. Ironically, though, the law itself might inspire a chuckle due to its ridiculousness.
Almost as strange as outlawing fake mustaches in church services is the outlawing of the game of dominoes on Sundays. While nearly 90% of Alabama residents attended church services during the time in which this law passed, the state still hoped that more people would go to church on Sundays. Meanwhile, dominoes was a popular game to play with friends and family. Thus, the state outlawed the act of playing dominoes on Sundays to attract more people to the church. By making dominoes illegal on Sundays, people would not be tempted to play the game. Rather, they would attend church in place of playing dominoes.
In addition, dominoes and other games were prohibited on Sundays because they were seen as a form of work. Sunday, being the Christian sabbath day of the week, was a day in which work was not allowed. Other activities prohibited on Sundays in Alabama included card games, hunting, and racing. Furthermore, Alabama residents were not allowed to coerce others into working on Sundays. Some businesses were still allowed to operate on the Sabbath, though, such as oil and gas industries, newspaper stands, markets, ice cream shops, and more.
In the state of Alabama, 24 of its 67 counties are partially dry, meaning they maintain some alcohol restrictions. Furthermore, blue laws in Alabama regarding alcohol sales vary according to the county. Considering the state as a whole, though, beer for off-premise consumption is legally sold 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. On-premise consumption of beer, such as in a bar or club, is legal on all days and during all hours of the day except for Sunday. On Sunday, on-premise consumption of beer is illegal, and the selling of beer between 2 a.m. and 9 a.m. for off-premise consumption is illegal, making it one of the top bizarre laws in Alabama.
Summary of 7 Bizarre Crimes in Alabama That Are Still Against the Law
|1||Salt on Railroad Tracks||Aimed to deter livestock owners from scamming railroad companies|
|2||Bear Wrestling||Derives from an old Alabama pastime in which bears went head-to-head in wrestling matches|
|3||Ice Cream Cone Placement||Criminals who attempted to steal horses would put ice cream cones in the back pants pockets, and horses would follow them|
|4||Clergy Costume||Pretending to be a clergyman or any minister of any religion, such as a nun or priest, is illegal|
|5||Fake Mustaches in Church||Blue Law – banned on religious days and Sunday|
|6||Playing Dominoes||Blue Law – banned on religious days and Sunday|
|7||Alcohol Sales||Blue Law – banned on religious days and Sunday|
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