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Strange – and Completely Real – Laws in the DMV

April Fool’s Day may be the day for pranks and jokes, but the laws below are actual regulations in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. (Spoiler alert: Virginia REALLY cares about birds!)

Washington, D.C.

  • It’s illegal to throw a cantaloupe in the Potomac River. Yes, really! According to DC Code § 22–4402 (2017), it is unlawful to throw or deposit “any dead fish, fish offal, dead animals of any kind, condemned oysters in the shell, watermelons, cantaloupes, vegetables, fruits, shavings, hay, straw, or filth of any kind whatsoever” in the Potomac River or its tributaries.
  • If an offense is committed against a public transit or Metro operator, the appropriate fine is multiplied by 1.5. While it’s always illegal to commit an offense against someone, DC Code § 22–3751.01 (2017) increases the fine if the offense is committed against MTA employees and managers.

Maryland

  • Public profanity is illegal in the city of Rockville, particularly if you’re in a car. According to the Laws of Rockville (Ch. 12, § 12-1.00), it is illegal to “profanely curse and swear or use obscene language upon or near any street, sidewalk or highway within the hearing of persons passing by, upon or along such street, sidewalk or highway.” That means road rage with your windows down can be classified as a misdemeanor!
  • It’s illegal to gamble on a boat. According to MD Crim Law Code § 12-105 (2017), “A person may not bet, wager, or gamble or keep, conduct, maintain, or operate a gaming device on…a vessel or a part of a vessel on water within the State, except as provided in § 6-209 of the Transportation Article.” This is punishable by up to one year in jail or a fine of up to $1,000!

Virginia

  • It is illegal to hunt birds and wild animals before 1:00 pm or after sunset on Sundays – except raccoons! According to House Bill No. 2460 for the Code of Virginia, birds, wild animals, and “nuisance species” cannot be hunted during certain times on Sundays – “except raccoons, which may be hunted until 2:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings.”
  • It is illegal to use a light to scare chickens after dark. Virginia really loves its birds — VA Code § 18.2-509 (2017) makes it illegal to cast a light after dark “upon any poultry house or other building inhabited by animals that causes such animals to panic or become injured.” The exception, of course, is if the chickens in question are YOUR chickens, and you’re causing a chicken panic on your own land.

Curious about other strange laws in your state or county? Not sure if you need a permit for your fruit salad? Give us a call – we’d be happy to help you find out.