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!
chester cox says
Greetings, just to alleviate any confusion in #7: the “bola” tie you refer to is actually the Bolo tie…Thanks for all the other info. (former longtime AZ resident).
Ian Pisarcik says
Thanks for the information!
Nikki c says
Is it illegal to walk down the street with the ice cream in your pocket your back pocket?
Ian Pisarcik says
At one time, it was illegal to walk around with ice cream in your back pocket in many states. This was because horse thieves used ice cream to lure horses away from their owners. However, I haven’t been able to find any active statutes in Arizona making it illegal to carry ice cream in your back pocket.
I don’t know the credibility of these, but:
1. It is illegal to shower or bathe more than one time a week.
2. It is illegal to have/own more than two adult toys per household.
3. If you are caught by an officer (or any other law official) and are found without $1 USD or more in cash in your wallet, you will be tried with Vagrancy (Though I cannot remember the legal actions taken. I think it’s either a fine, or community service or something?)
Ian Pisarcik says
Thank you for the information!
When YOU are served legal papers, do you still have to give the process server a carrot for his horse. Is It still a law in Arizona?
Ian Pisarcik says
This is not a law I’m familiar with, but there certainly have been some strange laws in the past! Thanks for the comment.
Hi! A native Arizonan here. For all the “weird” laws you listed I can say that only two were actually weird laws. Most of these laws are put up to keep people safe or to prevent danger to Arizona’s unique ecosystem.
2. Saguaro cacti take ten years to grow a single inch, meaning the seven foot tall cacti you are out in the desert are hundreds of years old. The cacti provide shelter and food to various wild life and are a vital part to Arizona’s ecosystem! The law is there to make sure our ecosystem stays happy and healthy.
3. Spitting on sidewalks or public areas/building is really gross, no one wants to step in your saliva. Its to keep the community nicer.
4. Tripping a horse can injure the horse, gravely injure the rider, or even kill them. It can also end up injuring nearby civilians as well as the person who decided to trip a horse. It’s to keep people safe from getting injured.
5. You don’t want to waste a perfectly good animal, and bigger animals such as elk, deer, and coyotes, can seriously injure or kill your hunting dogs. It’s to avoid dead dogs you were attached to. I will agree it’s a bit weird to allow them to attack bears and mountain lions.
6. A sick pig is a bad pig, no one wants to eat a sick pig. Even though pigs can eat most things, feeding them garbage can hurt them and if they die from the garbage the meat could be contaminated by dangerous oils or bacteria in the meat.
7. There is no law saying you can’t wear a Bolo tie, it was made the official state neckwear due to the fact Arizona is partially known for its westerner themed past. Why is there even a fine price next to it?
8. No one likes to be scammed, it’s common for people to rig crane games so you can never get the prize which causes you to spend more money. This law isn’t weird and makes perfect sense.
9. Safety. That’s all that needs to be said, because it’s dangerous to ride through high rise waters on a motorcycle. It’s called the ‘Stupid Motorist Law’ for a reason.
Most laws are put in place for a reason. Please figure out why a law is in place before declaring it a weird law, it’s usually there for a reason. The only one I can’t really explain is the palm reading lol
Ian Pisarcik says
Thank you for your comment.
Our articles about “weird” laws are intended to point out some of the more obscure or surprising laws. This intent falls within the definition of “weird,” which is something that is “different from what is usual, ordinary, or expected.” For example, the fact that Arizona has a law making the bolo tie the official state neckwear (2015 Arizona Revised Statutes § 41-857) is not what most people would expect to see when flipping through state statutes. Similarly, while there may be a good reason behind it, most people would not expect for it to be unlawful to spit on a public sidewalk.
I agree that laws are put in place for a reason. However, the passage of time or niche reason for their enactment makes some laws “weird.”