10 Dumbest Laws in Utah
The state’s criminal, judicial and traffic codes are published online for easy access, but if you’re not used to sifting through legal jargon, they’re not very helpful. Luckily, we do the sifting for you. And in the process, we’ve come across some pretty bizarre laws. We decided to share some of the most unnecessary, oddly specific, and archaic. The following acts are all illegal or otherwise prohibited in the state of Utah:
1. Causing a Catastrophe
Under Utah criminal code 76.6.105, causing a catastrophe by use of fire, flood or avalanche is a first-degree felony. This law also covers explosions and building collapses via weapon of mass destruction, but we’re not sure why it was necessary to include acts of God in the list of punishable offenses. Guilty parties must also reimburse property owners for any damage caused by said catastrophe.
2. Riding a Bike without Hands
According to traffic code 41.6a.1112, you have to keep at least one hand on the handlebars while riding a bicycle or moped. If you’re thinking about carrying a package in your free hand, think again: that’s also illegal. In neighborhoods with bored cops, we recommend installing a basket… just in case a parcel or package ends up in your possession.
3. Offering Specials in Bars
There are no after-work BOGO margaritas for Utah office workers. It’s illegal for any bar to discount a drink on certain days of the week, which means we never get the pleasure of weekday specials, Ladies’ Nights or dollar draft days.
4. Advertising an Auction with Music
We’ve seen sign flippers and street musicians, but apparently it’s illegal to combine the two in a very specific way in Salt Lake City. If you’re holding an auction in the state capital, don’t advertise it by standing on a public street and playing a musical instrument such as a flute or drum. This violates City Code 5.16.310, and it could result in losing your auctioneer’s license. Incidentally, the following “noisy acclamations” are also prohibited: blowing whistles, ringing bells, and anything else that might cause a crowd to gather.
5. Stepping on the Cracks
Someone needs to tell the state of Utah that the old childhood rhyme isn’t actually true: stepping on a sidewalk crack won’t break anyone’s back. It will turn you into a felon, though, if the sidewalk happens to stretch alongside a state highway.
6. Skipping Premarital Counseling
Well, this one isn’t quite so cut-and-dried, but we still think it’s a little weird. In certain Utah counties, marriage counseling is a required part of any marriage license approval, but the local government can’t charge more than $10 in additional fees. This might seem like no big deal, but according to Utah code 30.1.39, it’s a misdemeanor to thwart this law. That doesn’t just mean you can’t forge your counseling requirements. It also means you can’t get married anywhere else! If you find out that your local government requires premarital counseling, and then you decide to skip the hassle and head to the next county over, you’ll be committing a misdemeanor across county lines.
7. Condoning Biting During a Boxing Match
Unless Mike Tyson is planning to move here, we’re not sure why this law was necessary. According to Code 76.9.705, no one can throw an “ultimate fighting match” that allows biting. Luckily for event organizers, the following are on the list of allowed actvities: boxing, wrestling and kicking.
We didn’t think it needed to be said, either. But the Marine Mammal Protection Act bans commercial whaling in Utah’s lakes or rivers.
9. Selling Alcohol During an Emergency… If Someone Tells You Not To
We’ve heard rumors about Utah’s alcohol ban during emergencies, but it’s not quite so general. Under 32B.4.407, if the governor declares a state of emergency and a local government official tells you not to sell alcohol, you have to listen.
10. Marrying Your Cousin… Until You’re 65
That’s right! Utah actually makes an incest exception for first cousins who are both at least 65 years old. It’s actually legal up to a decade earlier, but between the ages of 55 and 65, a district court has to certify that one or both parties is infertile.
In order to help our clients navigate Utah’s court system, we have to know its codes backwards and forwards. With laws like these on the books, we won’t get bored any time soon.