Texas Living

Texas’ Weirdest Laws

By Peter Simek 11.12.18

Colorful lawmen and hard-line justice are part of Texas’ DNA. But sometimes, in their dedication to legislation, Texas lawmakers have gotten a little, well, goofy. Every state has old and archaic laws on their books. Here are some weird laws still in effect in the Lone Star State.

Don’t take off your shoes.

Unless you have the $5 permit you need to walk around barefoot.

Don’t even try to sell Limburger cheese on a Sunday.

Not if you’re in Houston, anyway. It’s illegal, so you’ll have to wait until Monday.

Hide your Encyclopedia Britannicas.

The entire encyclopedia is banned in Texas because it contains a formula for making beer at home.

Expect written notice before being robbed.

According to one Texas law, criminals who intend to commit a crime are supposed to give their victims oral or written notice 24 hours in advance. Their notice must include the nature of the crime. 

The worst game of chicken.

If two trains meet at a railroad crossing, both must stop and neither can go until the other one is gone. The story is that a state senator who didn’t want a certain law passed tacked this ridiculous conundrum onto the law to ensure it couldn’t go forward. But then no one noticed, and it accidentally became a law. Hopefully no one enforces it, or that could be a long train ride.

Galveston wants you to keep it moving.

If you sit on a sidewalk there, you could get fined $500.

Don’t be that parent.

We all knew parents (or had parents) who gave their kids the worst haircuts and sent them off to school, and someone would say something like, “that should be illegal.” But in Mesquite, it is illegal for children to have unusual haircuts.

Don’t ever drive in the wrong direction.

In Richardson, U-turns are illegal. So if you’re going the wrong way, you’ll have to take the long way around.  

Join the 21st century.

We love a good old-fashioned horse and buggy. Unfortunately, it’s illegal to ride one through a town square in Texas.

Texarkana takes its taillights very seriously.

If you’re riding a horse at night, you have to give it a taillight — literally.

You can’t sell your eyes.

Who knows what political squabble set this one off? Back in the mid-1980s, the Texas Legislature specifically told Texans not to sell their eyes in a statute prohibiting the purchase and sale of human organs. However, if you pay a doctor, the physician can remove your eyes legally.

No shooting buffalo (from hotel windows).

During the late 19th century, tens of millions of buffalo were killed in the American West. Passengers on trains would lean out their windows and shoot at herds as they rode by. The slaughter was prompted, in part, by a desire to wipe out the major food source for Native Americans. Perhaps that’s why it was necessary to write a law declaring, “It is illegal for one to shoot a buffalo from the second story of a hotel.”

Don’t give into the urge to feather-dust public buildings.

Sometimes you can intuit an imaginary, zany situation that prompted the passing of a peculiar Texas statute. But then there is this mystery: Why would Clarendon prohibit the feather dusting of a public building?

Remember the Alamo. Respect the Alamo.

You might think that prohibitions on how to treat the most significant building in the history of Texas would be regulated by mere public decency. But some unfortunate scoundrel prompted San Antonio to pass a law specifically criminalizing urinating on the Alamo. And it’s not a joke, either; offenders have been jailed for up to a year.

Thou shalt not milk thy neighbor’s cow.

It might seem ridiculous that there’s a law against milking another person’s cow. But think about it for a second. If it was your cow, you wouldn’t want anyone stealing your milk.

Those are the most surprising laws we know of. If you’re wondering about the little things, give your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent a call to make sure you know the ins and outs of your policy — so you never get surprised.

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