It’s the heart of the Wild West. Home to the Grand Canyon. The red rocks of Sedona. Tombstone and the O.K. Corral.
But Arizona can be... quirky... especially when it comes to its laws.
Let’s take a trip through the Arizona statutes to find some that are pretty unusual.
10 strange laws in Arizona
The following are some interesting and unusual Arizona laws cited in the Arizona Revised Statutes (except for a few that are local laws in a specific municipality):
- It’s illegal to manufacture imitation drugs. A person can’t manufacture, distribute, or possess with intent to distribute an imitation controlled substance. (§13-3453)
- It’s illegal to dig up and move a saguaro cactus. You could face up to 25 years in prison for this offense. (§3-906)
- In Goodyear, Arizona, it’s unlawful for any person to spit on any of the public sidewalks or crosswalks in the city. It’s also illegal to spit on any public path, byway or highway, in or on any public ground or park in the city, or upon the floor or interior of any public building in the city. (Goodyear Code of Ordinances, §11-1-15)
- A person who knowingly or intentionally trips an equine for entertainment or sport is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, you’d serve a minimum of 48 hours in jail and pay a fine of at least $1,000. An “equine” is defined as a horse, pony, mule, donkey, or hinny. “Trips” means knowingly or intentionally causing an equine to lose its balance or fall by use of a pole, stick, or rope or any other object or by any other means. (§13-2910.09)
- If you’re a hunter, there are a few things you should know. First, it’s illegal to take a game bird, game mammal, or game fish and knowingly permit an edible portion to go to waste. In addition, you’re not allowed to take big game (except a bear or mountain lion) with the aid of dogs. (§17-309)
- You can’t feed garbage to a pig. Yes, you read that correctly. The statute specifies that you must obtain a permit if you want to feed garbage to swine. However, if you’re looking for a loophole, here it is: you may feed your own household garbage to swine that you raise for your own use. (§3-2664)
- It turns out that Arizona has official state neckwear: the Bolo tie. (§41-857)
- You know those crane games you find in supermarkets, movie theaters, and pizza places — the ones where you pay money and the big crane hand comes down and grabs you a toy? Well, don’t even think about rigging one of those — it’s unlawful for a person to knowingly alter or maintain a crane game so that the claw is physically incapable of grabbing exposed prizes. (§13-3312)
- Arizona’s “Stupid Motorist Law” is the nickname for this statute. This law says that the driver of a vehicle who drives on a public street or highway that’s temporarily covered by a rise in water level, and that is barricaded because of flooding, is liable for the expenses of any kind of emergency rescue operation. (§28-91)
- If you want to know what’s in store for you, steer clear of Avondale, Arizona. This city has a law on its books that any person engaging in fortune-telling, palm-reading, or palmistry is guilty of a misdemeanor. Hypnotism is also prohibited unless it’s performed by an accredited doctor or dentist. (§15-2)
Popular strange Arizona “laws” that are actually myths
Have you heard that it’s illegal to sing while wearing a bathing suit in Arizona? Or that women can’t wear pants in Tucson? Or (our favorite) that you’re prohibited from allowing a donkey to sleep in your bathtub?
In this situation, the myths are definitely stranger than reality. There are lots of online sites that claim to list weird Arizona laws, but it turns out that many of those are only fiction.
Here are some head-scratchers that people say are strange Arizona laws, but actually are NOT:
- It’s illegal for your donkey to sleep in your bathtub. The donkey in the bathtub “law” is not real. So if you’d like to bathe your donkey and lull him gently to sleep in the tub, no one is going to stop you.
- It’s illegal to hunt camels. Have you ever seen a wild camel wandering around Arizona? Sometimes there are laws on the books that were once relevant and gradually lost relevance over time. Supposedly, there was a time when the military brought camels to Arizona and there might have been a “no camel hunting” law on the books back then, but there isn’t a law like this on the books today.
- It’s illegal to deny someone a drink of water. There have been public health initiatives encouraging business owners to be courteous of people who might be suffering in the Arizona desert heat by offering them water. Certainly, if a person comes into your business or to your doorstep and needs refreshment, it would be the right thing to do to allow them a drink of water. But you’re by no means legally obligated to do so under Arizona law.
- Parents aren’t allowed to sing nursery rhymes to their children after 8pm in Arizona. It’s difficult to tell where or how this myth originated, but it’s just that — a myth. A verse or two of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star is perfectly acceptable at any time of the day or night.
- It’s illegal to ride a horse up the courthouse steps in Prescott, Arizona. This seems to be one of the most widespread fake laws that people believe to be true. This activity might come under laws about public disturbances, or maybe even destruction of public property (depending on the horse), but it’s not technically illegal. But really, though, if you do ride your house to the top of the courthouse steps, what are you going to do when you get there?
If you’ve learned one thing today, maybe it can be that you shouldn’t believe everything you hear or read. Every state has some unusual legislation in its code and you can find it if you’re willing to dig a little. Arizona is no different and it’s part of what makes us unique.
After all, we’re the only state that has official neckwear!