12 Bizarre Laws in Utah You Won’t Believe Are Real
1. In the event of beaver dams, you have recourse.
According to UT Code § 23-18-4, citizens in Utah can request authorization from the Wildlife Board to kill or trap a beaver if said beaver is “doing damage to, or are a menace to, private property.” This one might come in handy during your next beaver infestation.
2. Don’t promote milk discrimination.
According to UT Code § 76-6-105, anyone in the business of buying milk products cannot discriminate “between sections, communities, localities, cities, or towns of this state.” That’s a no-no in Utah, which could make you guilty of a class B misdemeanor.
3. Keep your hands on the handlebars.
If you are riding a bicycle or moped, there’s no joyriding with your hands willy-nilly. According to UT Code § 41-6a-1112, you need both hands free to steer and at least one hand on the handlebars at all times. So no matter how proud you might be of Billy when he screams, “Look Mom, no hands!” know that Billy’s ride could be the first in a life of criminal offenses.
4. Whatever you do, don’t cause a catastrophe.
Causing a catastrophe in Utah can be a first-degree felony, according to UT Code § 76-6-105. But before all the accident and disaster-prone people start panicking, know that a catastrophe is defined as “widespread injury or damage to persons or property by” the use of a weapon of mass destruction or “explosion, fire, flood, avalanche, collapse of a building, or other harmful or destructive force or substance.” So unless you accidentally topple a building, I think you are safe from this one.
5. Next time you go fishing, leave the explosives and crossbow at home.
According to the Utah Fishing 2019 Guidebook, you cannot “use any chemical, explosive, electricity, poison, firearm, pellet gun or archery equipment to take fish or crayfish.” There are exceptions, however. When killing common carp, crossbows and spears are fair game.
6. When at public performances, keep your hat low.
In 1898, it was considered a misdemeanor for people to wear a hat that was too high inside a theater (The Revised Statutes of the State of Utah in Force Jan. 1, 1898, 4487). Then again, in 1898 it was also a crime in Utah to sell impure vinegar, duel, procure females to play musical instruments at saloons, and participate in barbarous and noisy amusements on a Sunday.
7. In Provo, it’s best not to get in a snowball fight or put torpedoes on railroad tracks.
According to the Provo Municipal Codes 9.14, “every person who shall willfully or carelessly within the limits of this City throw any stone, stick, snowball or other missile” that might hit another person, damage property, or “frighten or annoy any traveler, is guilty of a misdemeanor.” And, in case you had any crazy ideas, the same section states that it’s against the law to put torpedoes or explosives on “any track or rail over which cars of any kind or description pass.”
8. Think again before playing your fife in Salt Lake to advertise an auction.
Did you know Salt Lake once outlawed auctioneers from using “immoral or indecent language in crying their sales” and the “ringing of bells, blowing of whistles, . . . drum or fife or other musical instrument or noise making means of attracting the attention of passersby” (5.54.310)? That sounds like one lively and very loud auction to me.
9. Don’t get too close on the dance floor in Monroe, Utah.
In January 2000, Utah’s representatives took a break from lawmaking to reflect on some strange laws still on the books across the nation. Among them was a law from Monroe, Utah, which stated that daylight must be visible between partners on a dance floor. I guess you’re out of luck if you wanted to go dancing at night.
10. Be careful while hunting and transporting whales in Utah.
Though the Utah Code does not mention whales specifically, the federal government’s Marine Mammal Protection Act makes it unlawful for anyone to take “any species of whale incident to commercial whaling in waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.” So whether you are in Hawaii, Utah, or Ohio, it’s best not to hunt whales. UT Code § 23-15-9 does specify, however, that it “is unlawful for any person to possess or transport live protected aquatic wildlife except as provided by this code or the rules and regulations of the Wildlife Board.” That means there’s no keeping endangered whales as pets.
11. Respect your librarians—on threat of detainment.
Though sweet and friendly, librarians are far from helpless when it comes to reclaiming stolen library books. According to UT Code § 76-6-803.60, “any employee of the library who has probable cause to believe that a person has committed library theft may detain the person, on or off the premises of a library.”
12. You have the right to take a skunk, if you want.
If the need ever arises that you need to take a red fox or skunk, know you have the law’s full backing. According to UT Code § 23-18-6, “red fox or striped skunk may be taken anytime without a license as provided by this title or rules or a proclamation of the Wildlife Board.”