Ohio became a U.S. state in 1803. Since then, the General Assembly has passed thousands of laws. Some of them sound strange or pointless in 2021, yet they are still technically the law, even if authorities rarely (or never) enforce them.
Even if you are unlikely ever to violate one of these laws, ignorance of the law is no excuse. So here are ten examples of unusual Ohio laws.
It is illegal to fish for whales on Sundays. Technically, this means you can go whaling on any other day, even though there are no whales in Ohio waters.
Somewhat relatedly, it is against the law to make a fish intoxicated. Perhaps this used to be a technique to make fishing easier.
Excuse me ma’am: What are your shoes made of?
You might want to think twice before leaving the house wearing your glossiest patent leather shoes (or not, since this law isn’t enforced). Women are prohibited from wearing patent leather shoes in public.
Tiger go missing? Don’t dawdle or take a nap. If someone owns a tiger and the animal goes missing, the owner must notify authorities within an hour.
Five women in one house
More than five women cannot live in the same house. This may have been an attempt to combat prostitution at one time.
Honk and pass
According to the Ohio driver’s education manual, you must honk your horn every time you pass another vehicle. A friendly wave is optional.
What color is that chicken?
In Akron, it is against the law to display colored chickens for sale. This is referring to chickens that are dyed.
Signs and swimming pools don’t mix
If there’s any place where posting signs is important for safety purposes – it’s at a swimming pool.
But in Akron, posting signs at swimming pools is prohibited. That means no warning signs posted on fences, trees, utility poles or any other exterior surface near a pool.
Keep that cow away from Lake Erie!
The town of Bay Village bans walking a cow down one of its main roads paralleling Lake Erie.
Slots and outhouses don’t mix
The town of Bexley does not allow slot machines inside of outhouses.
Each of these statutes and ordinances has a story behind it, and they must have made sense to somebody at the time. But they do not reflect modern life. Nobody honks their horn when they pass somebody on the highway. And few, if any, of our readers own a pet tiger.
The laws that do matter when an Ohioan is injured
But the vast majority of Ohio’s criminal and civil laws are reasonably modern and could affect your life. For example, the state’s torts laws apply whenever someone gets injured in a car accident and believes another party, such as the other driver, is to blame. If this happens to you, it is important that you work with an attorney who knows personal injury law thoroughly, as well as the real-world practicalities of obtaining reasonable compensation.