20 Strange but True Laws that Exist in New York

New York

There is nothing that people love (or despise) more than a strange and completely random law. If we are completely honest, it makes life more fun. Take, for example, my weekend getaway with my husband to North Carolina, where it is completely illegal to sing off-key. Every time we were in the car and a good song came on, I sang, and I felt like a rebel to the end knowing I cannot carry a tune to save my life. It really did make us laugh hysterically knowing that at any second we could be pulled over for singing off-key and taken straight to jail. But in all seriousness, even states like New York have completely random, strange and hilarious laws, and we can’t help but laugh. Read on to find out the strangest laws the State of New York has in effect.

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No Wine with Groceries

Perhaps the most annoying law ever in existence is that you cannot buy wine with your groceries. It’s considered illegal. Liquor stores want you shopping for your wine with them, and not with others. And that’s why they are making it a law that you cannot buy wine with your groceries. We think that this one might be something that makes liquor stores happy, but no one else is down.

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No Donkeys in the Tub

There are a few instances in which having a donkey in your New York bathtub is considered perfectly legal. For example, it is perfectly legal to bathe a donkey in your house. It’s also perfectly legal to go ahead and let your donkey play a game of cards or watch television sitting in your bathtub. However, the second you allow your donkey to fall asleep in the bathtub, you’re in trouble. It is illegal and strictly enforced.

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Elevator Rules

We all have our own way of riding the elevator when we are in one, but there are rules about it in New York. You must stand in the elevator with hands folded looking straight at the door and not speaking to anyone. So all those times my husband and I are in the elevator talking when we visit the city, we could be in big trouble. Fortunately, all the times we’re ignoring other people, we are in strict compliance with the law.

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Women can go Topless in Public for Personal Reasons Only

It’s not even remotely against the law in New York to go topless in public as a woman unless you are doing so for business purposes. The law states that it is not legal to promote any sort of business venture in public while topless. We suppose this is a great way of eliminating things like prostitution, but perhaps not allowing topless women in public would be another great way of doing this. But, you know, the law is the law.

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Men May Not Wear Mismatched Pants and Jackets in Public

Men everywhere are breaking this law and the fashion police are certain to get them any moment, right? I mean, mismatched pants and jackets are such a crime. I can’t understand why so many men bother going out in public like this; it’s heinous and the death penalty should be a consideration. Fashion death, that is. In all seriousness, there are fashion laws far more important than this one that should be enforced. Like wearing the correct size, for instance.

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ice cream

No Ice Cream Cones in Pockets on Sundays

You are permitted to enjoy a lovely, cold and delicious ice cream cone on a Sunday, but you are not to do so unless you are holding the cone in your hand, your handbag or some other carrier. It would be against the law for law enforcement to catch you holding your ice cream cone in your pocket on a Sunday. Rest assured, however, that there is no law specifying that you cannot do the same on a weekday or even a Saturday, so go ahead.

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You have to have a License to Use a Clothesline

Actually, this might not be such a bad idea. The people of New York are required by law to obtain a license from the state stipulating that they may hang their laundry out to dry on a clothesline. Not many people actually bother with this law, but it’s a good idea. I’m sure your neighbors would be happier to see your undergarments on the clothes line if they were licensed, right?

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You Get the Death Penalty for Jumping off a Building

Well….yeah. Need I say any more about this one? Yes, I do. If you dare to jump off a building in New York, you will be given the death penalty. Fortunately for 99.9% of jumpers (that’s a stat I just made up, FYI), the trial is short, though probably quite painful. The good news for those not jumping off buildings, you won’t be asked to oversee this case as a jury member since most death penalties for this crime are handled before they make it to court.

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No Slippers Past 10 PM

If you like to wear slippers around the house after an evening shower, welcome to life. If you like to wear slippers around the house past the 10 o’clock hour, you are a law breaking citizen in danger of being caught by the police. The law in New York states you are not allowed to do this without breaking the law. There is also no timeframe as to when you can legally put your feet back into your slippers, so things are a little grey in this area.

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All Businesses are Required to have Spitspoons

Please stop me here if you know what a spitspoon even is. It sounds like something old-fashioned and quite southern (and something I’ll be googling later), but I have never once in my life heard of one. But if you are a business owner in New York, you better have at least one in your place of business and you darn well better clean that thing every 24 hours unless you dare break the law. I’m sure that the spitspoon industry is thriving and it’s not at all difficult to find one in case you are already breaking this law.

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No Smoking within 100 Feet of any Building Entrance

I love this law. As a lifelong Floridian, I haven’t had to deal with cigarette smoke in public for as long as I can remember, and I despise going to states that allow it in public. It’s gross; and I don’t care how many people that offends. But I’m going to point out that people are breaking this rule left and right in New York, and that it seems like it’s almost impossible to even find a location this far from a building. On second thought, I see the point of it now.

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tight clothes

Body-Hugging Clothes are Illegal for Women in Public

Ladies, please don your mumus and your husband’s baggy clothing because you are not allowed to wear anything considered body-hugging in New York. This might mean something different to everyone, but we are certain that it means you cannot dress even remotely like you want to on most occasions, and that’s not all that cool with us. But that’s okay; we don’t think that this law is very strictly enforced if the public streets anywhere in NYC are any indication.

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No Masks in Public

Here’s another law that we think is worthwhile. It was put into effect more than a century and a half ago, and it states that no masks shall be worn at public gatherings. With all the protestors and the issues that people face when others are permitted to cover their faces, it only makes sense to us that wearing a mask in public would be something that is considered illegal.

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Couples Cannot File for Divorce on the Grounds of Irreconcilable Differences Unless they Agree

Allow me to introduce you to the oxymoron. It’s this law. Couples who cannot agree on anything (irreconcilable differences) may not file for divorce listing this as a reason unless they both agree to list this as a reason. Yes, that does make imperfect sense to us. But you know, to each his own. Let’s go ahead and assume that other couples are either learning to agree or they are staying married longer around here.

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Fatty Hamburgers are Forbidden

It’s strange, but it’s actually a good law. If a butcher sells anyone meat that contains more than 30% fat, the punishment is up to 30 days in jail. It seems to me that this is a good law that might prevent a bit of obesity, some serious health issues and some other things. I don’t see any reason that selling healthy food is a bad idea in the city, and it’s not like anyone actually wants to eat fatty hamburger meat. It’s why we all buy the lean stuff anyway.

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There’s a $25 Fine for Flirting

Marriage, relationships and all courtship will, from this point forward, only be viewed as a strict business arrangement. It is not lawful or legal to enter into any sort of flirtation with any sort of person ever unless you want to pay a fine. You will only be able to begin new relationships and carry on your marriage if you are serious and not flirtatious. Because that’s fun and that’s how life should be, right? What a boring and not at all fun law. I’ll pay the fine; repeatedly.

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No Dancing in Nightclubs

The law states that unless a club has a cabaret license, you are not permitted to dance. Well, that’s not true. You can get around the law if fewer than three people at a time are engaging in this activity. There is a chance that the city does not really abide by this rule, and we are curious as to how often it is enforced. It seems to me that dancing would be the least biggest issue that most people face when in a nightclub in the wee hours of the morning.

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No Throwing Balls at Heads for Entertainment Purposes

As the mother of four small children, I’m going to say that this is a good rule. Rule, yes, law? Well, I don’t think that it should have to be a law, but then again, some people just don’t follow rules, do they? How many times do you think that this happened before officials decided that a law was in order to protect their locals from this harmful and clearly very dangerous act of violence? I’d kind of love to know.

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No Spitting on the Street

Some people think this law is outrageous, but I think it’s not so bad. Spitting is not something that people want to see, hear, encounter or even step in once the act is complete. Our idea is that you might want to go ahead and make sure that you don’t spit on the sidewalks and that you save that for a sink or something of that nature. It’s just less disgusting.

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There are thousands of ways in which you can greet someone when you are in public. You can say hello. You can wave. You can hug, you can give a high-five or punch someone in the face or trip them or push them down. But you may not, under any circumstances, greet anyone in public in New York by sticking your thumb to your nose and wiggling your fingers. That would be awful. Please, stick to tripping people and pushing them down. It’s less horrendous.

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