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What Weird Laws are Still on the Books in Virginia?

By Edited Aug 24, 2016 1 0
Gavel.Law
Credit: succo via Pixabay CC0 Public Domain https://pixabay.com/en/hammer-books-law-court-lawyer-719066/

Every state or country has its laws and sometimes there are some pretty outdated ones out there still on the books.  And some laws are odder than others.

For instance, take the great State of Virginia. There are still a few weird and/or outdated laws that are still technically enforceable. The following list I've tried to verify officially where possible and, in many cases, I did find the actual penal code associated with the offense. Others, not so much. In these cases, I was not sure if there was some origin that got exaggerated over time or if they were completely made up. I did note this in those sections which ones I couldn't verify.

Without further ado -

Swearing Out Loud

Did you know if you swear at someone on the telephone in the Commonwealth of Virginia, a person can be pinned with a Class 1 misdemeanor under penal code § 18.2-427? This includes indecent and lewd comments.

The law includes public airwaves, texts and other messages sent wirelessly and citizens band radio (CBs) and any other electronically transmitted communication.  Don't do it in public either under § 18.2-388, those who do could get slapped with a class 4 misdemeanor (§ 18.2-388 also includes intoxication laws).

Swearing
Credit: ClkerFreeVectorImages via Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

In Virginia, you should know you should watch what you say on the telephone or in public - say a bad word and you can technically find yourself in hot water under the law.

No Trick-Or-Treating Allowed?

Old Dominion law allegedly dictates children are not allowed to go trick-or-treating on Halloween. So while kids in other regions around the globe are all decked out and having fun, in Virginia children are theoretically supposed to be at home. It's hard to find where this originated, but I've heard it for years since I moved to Virginia. I'm guessing it either was real at one point or has been exaggerated. Searches for "Halloween" or "Trick or treating" in the Virginia Law Library did not turn anything up.

However, it seems in the southeast part of the state, there really are laws relating to this - for instance kids must be under the age of 12 and have to be finished trick-or-treating by 8 p.m. If not, it's a class 4 (or in the case of at least 1 town), a class 3 misdemeanor. 5

Halloween
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

There are many reasons to be careful when trick-or-treating on Halloween due to various reasons, but in Virginia can you get in trouble for simply going out to trick-or-treat?

Honk When Passing

In Virginia, according to a number of websites, if a driver wants to pass a car, he or she must honk while doing it. Good luck with that one, especially in Northern Virginia. People generally drive so fast when weaving in and out of traffic, police would probably have a hard time catching up to those not using their horns. Not to mention the level of noise pollution that would be going on.

I can't verify this one for sure in the online Virginia Law Library, but I did find cars are required to have a horn and one that is able to be heard under normal conditions "for at least 200 feet" under § 46.2-1059. That seems pretty reasonable to me.

Northern Virginia Traffic
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

Traffic on I-66 in Northern Virginia. Imagine all the honking going on if all drivers adhered to a "must honk" law while passing another vehicle. This would be seriously distracting during rush hour (this photo was taken just before the height of rush-hour).

Sex-Related Laws

This section is a few laws rolled into one category. The Commonwealth of Virginia holds particular standards when it comes to laws regarding sex. I'm not going to go into all of them here, but touch on a few of them.

For instance, two persons are not allowed to engage in sex unless legally wed. The premarital sex rule falls under § 18.2-344 "Fornication" and is a Class 4 misdemeanor.

Thinking about cheating on your husband or wife? Be careful if you live in Virginia, aside from ticking off your spouse, you could technically get in trouble for committing adultery under § 18.2-365, also a Class 4 misdemeanor.

Oh and, even if people are having sex legally, if you are in Romboch, Va., they must allegedly have the lights off. (I was not able to verify this one for sure though on any authoritative website, although there are lots of mentions of it across the web).

Tickling Women

Did you know if you tickle your wife, daughter, sister or other female you can potentially get in trouble? That's right, it is supposedly illegal to tickle a woman in either all or some parts of Virginia. (OK, maybe, but maybe not. I searched Virginia's law database and admittedly I'm having a hard time trying to track down the exact penal code for this one, but it was too funny not to include). It seems this may be one of those laws that was either exaggerated, listed under another term or simply repealed a long time ago.

Hunting on Sundays

Other things people can't do in Virginia is hunt for animals on Sundays, but after a 2014 update to modify existing state law, there are some exceptions. Hunters are now allowed to hunt for waterfowl (ducks, coot, brant, swans and geese) on Sundays, but not within 200 yards of a house of worship "or any accessory structure thereof." Also the restrictions on hunting raccoons have been relaxed too. Hunters are now allowed to hunt these critters until 2 a.m. on Sundays.

Raccoon
Credit: Michael Gottwald/Gotti1979 on Pixabay CC0 Public Domain https://pixabay.com/en/raccoon-zoo-wildlife-park-cheeky-853830/

For years hunters were not allowed to hunt raccoons on Sundays, but after a change to Virginia state law in 2014, hunters can now do it, but make sure they do it before 2  a.m.

While these laws are weird, they are, for the most part, not enforced these days (except probably the hunting laws). However, you do hear in the news every now and then about one of these oddball laws being imposed.

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Bibliography

  1. "§ 18.2-365. Adultery defined; penalty.." Virginia Law Library. 14/03/2016 <Web >
  2. "§ 18.2-344. Fornication." Virginia Law Library. 14/03/2016 <Web >
  3. "§ 18.2-388. Profane swearing and intoxication in public; penalty; transportation of public inebriates to detoxification center.." Virginia Law Library. 14/03/2016 <Web >
  4. "§ 18.2-427. Use of profane, threatening, or indecent language over public airways or by other methods.." Virginia Law Library. 14/03/2016 <Web >
  5. "2015 Trick-or-treat info!." WTKR News. 28/10/2014. 14/03/2016 <Web >
  6. "These Ridiculous Laws Suggest Virginia Is For Prudes, Not Lovers." Huffington Post. 12/11/2013. 14/03/2016 <Web >
  7. "Dumb Laws in Virginia." Dumblaws.com. 14/03/2016 <Web >
  8. "Hunting on Sundays in Virginia." Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. 14/03/2016 <Web >
  9. " Bizarre and Unbelievable Driving Laws in Virginia." National Driver Safety Services. 26/04/2013. 14/03/2016 <Web >
  10. "§ 46.2-1059. Horns." Virginia Law Library. 14/03/2016 <Web >

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