We’ve all heard that “justice is blind.” But sometimes – it can also be pretty ridiculous. Wisconsin laws are no exception.
The most mysterious thing about strange laws like these, is that there had to be a reason why they were put into place once upon a time.
After reading these 11 Wisconsin state laws, you’ll probably find your imagination running a little wild. But at the very least, I hope we get a laugh outta ya.
We know some silly state laws are just legend. But as far as we know, the following laws are real statutes that came straight from the Wisconsin State Legislature. I even called and talked to a librarian at the Wisconsin State Law Library to ask for help confirming these laws.
I took out the ones she told me were nonsense right off the bat, but she never got back to me about the rest of the list.
Maybe they just didn’t have a sense of humor about it…
So if you think any of these Wisconsin laws are false – let us know in the comments.
1. It’s Illegal to Serve Margarine in Wisconsin
From 1925-1967 margarine was banned from sale in the state of Wisconsin. I guess Wisconsinites even tried smuggling it in, or making what they called “oleo runs” from Illinois. Thousands of Wisconsinites became fake-butter law breaking felons.
No joke. Wisconsin statute 98.17 has been in place since 1895 and it still stands today. It’s still illegal for restaurants to serve margarine – unless the customer specifically orders it. The “yellow stick from Satan himself,” as Governor Warren Knowles called it – is also a big no no in prisons, hospitals, schools or other state institutions – unless absolutely necessary for health reasons.
2. It’s Illegal Not to Give Livestock the Right-of-Way
One of WhooNEW’s Facebook fans made sure to point out that this law is not a dumb one. That it must have been a “cidiot” who put that on the list.
Well, the law might not be silly. But the people who decided to plow their vehicle straight through the poor roaming livestock sure are.
And Wisconsin statute 346.21 says we must give the farm animals the right of way on Wisconsin roads and highways.
So MOOve over for ’em would ya?
That’s really sweet though, Wisconsin. To give these poor animals legal protection from crazy drivers since 1957. Especially because they don’t even have too long before we gut them and eat them for dinner.
3. When Two Trains Meet, Neither Should Proceed Until the Other One Has
Did you read that twice? I had to…
I’m not really sure what would truly happen if a couple of railroad engineers actually decided to obey this one. It’s really quite hilarious when you think about it!
I bet it made for some delays on the railway.
Now…what about livestock on railroad tracks in Wisconsin? They do call those things on the front “cowcatchers” after all.
4. Businesses May Only Base Their Hours on Central Time
Here’s a good reason not to forget about Daylight Saving Time…
If you own a business in Wisconsin, your store hours better be advertised in the Central Time zone, or you could be fined $25-$500 and jailed for 10-30 days – according to Wisconsin statute 175.09. How could you confuse us like that?
Just think… there’s a valid reason behind every law…
5. It’s a Crime to Harass a Seeing-Eye-Dog in Wisconsin
What sort of bully would do such a thing? I can’t help but wonder the details behind this strange law.
You’d have to be a real jerk to mess with a dog helping a disabled person or leading a blind person. But I suppose there are plenty of jerks out there.
6. Wisconsin Cheese Must Be “Highly Pleasing”
I’m not kidding, if you look up Wisconsin’s cheese laws – and there are a lot of them – you’ll see. The law states that the cheese must be “highly pleasing.” (Source)
I don’t think my husband ever ate a piece of cheese he didn’t find highly pleasing.
There are plenty more cheesy laws where that came from. Like, you have to have a master cheese-making license to make Limburger cheese. And, it’s illegal to make baby Swiss cheese without well-developed eyes.
But I must burst your bubble and tell you that the crazy law about having to serve a piece of cheese with a slice of apple pie is only a legend.
7. Adultery – Class I Felony
Turns out your cheating heart can land you in prison if you are unfaithful in Wisconsin.
That’s right, supposedly anyone who’s caught cheating on his or her spouse can be fined $10,000 and get up to 3 years in prison, thanks to Statute 944.16.
Did you know this law was put into place in 1849, one year after Wisconsin became a state?
When I asked the Wisconsin State Law librarian about this one, she said “If you put that in there, you’re really going to freak some people out.” Haha.
Well… isn’t that a good thing!? Maybe some of these outdated laws have some merit after all.
8. You Can’t Force Someone to Have a Microchip Implanted
Have you heard NBC’s prediction that all Americans will be forced to get an RFID microchip implanted in them by 2017 per ObamaCare?
Well, guess what ObamaCare? That’s illegal in Wisconsin! Yep, we’re one of 5 states that passed legislation on mandatory microchip implantation. Woohaha. Doesn’t it feel good to be a Wisconsinite.
- Read The Truth Behind the ObamaCare Microchip Implant Rumor from obamacarefacts.com
9. It’s Illegal to Shoot Animals From an Airplane
Are we talking about birds here? I mean COME ON. Who in their right mind would go shooting at grounded animals anyway? Wouldn’t you be deathly afraid of accidentally taking out a few humans? OMG.
Although, it would certainly be an interesting twist when deer hunting season rolls around.
10. It’s Illegal to Blow Up a Muskrat House
You would literally have to go out of your way to break a law like this. Who on Earth put the Wisconsin State Legislature through the hassle of having to pass this law? Don’t you have better things to do?
And what about beaver dams? Can I legally stick some dynamite in a prairie dog hole?
Anyway – if you happen to be a muskrat – this is a great law.
11. It’s Illegal to Sell Colored Chicks, Ducklings or Rabbits
This must have been someone’s idea for a great way to celebrate Easter? Why else would someone dye these baby animals and sell them? Well folks – in Wisconsin – I guess we’re going to have to stick to decorating eggs.
Apparently, the rights of “unborn chicks” are still unprotected.
But speaking of chicks and ducklings – you may have heard that it’s against the law for our neighbors in Minnesota to cross the border into Wisconsin with a duck or chicken on their heads. Seems logical, right?
Turns out this one is another legend that was probably confused because of an old law dealing with a fabric called duck cloth. Read more from Minnesota Public Radio.
However, if you do catch a Minnesotan crossing state lines with any sort of feathered friend on their head – I don’t care if it’s a goose, a pigeon or a peacock – your civic duty as a Wisconsinite is to send them back where they came from.
Other Funny City Laws in Wisconsin
Sheboygan – It’s illegal to water your lawn in a way that annoys others.
Did you hear that grumpy old man next door who never turns his sprinkler off? You’re lucky this is Green Bay!
Racine – It’s illegal to wake a fireman when he is asleep.
But…but…what if there is a FIRE!?!
Racine – It’s illegal to shoot missiles at parade participants.
How about launching grenades? That’s cool, right?
Connorsville – It’s illegal to fire your gun while your female partner is having an orgasm.
Not sure if you’d do that to cover up her noisy moans of pleasure, or to celebrate finally finding the G-spot.
La Crosse – It’s illegal to worry a squirrel.
Squirrels are such worry-worts already. It drives me nuts!
La Crosse – It’s illegal to play Checkers in public, because it’s also illegal to say “king me.”
So then, if I were playing Checkers with a squirrel in a La Crosse public park, and he was worried I might win then…ah never mind.
Kenosha – It’s illegal for men to be in the state of arousal in public.
I don’t know if there is a police officer in Kenosha who has to check all the men’s pants. If there is – I hope he gets paid well.
Milwaukee – If you’re thought of as offensive looking, it’s illegal for you to be out in public during the day.
Ok, that’s just plain mean, Milwaukee.
Sun Prairie – It’s illegal to ride a bike without your hands on the handlebars.
Look Ma! I’m breaking the law!
Wauwatosa – If a person fails to return books to the library, that person shall return their library card to the library until the books are returned.
You’ll get my library card when you pry it out of my cold, dead fingers. Come and get me librarians!
St. Croix – Women are not allowed to wear red in public.
Even Wisconsin Badgers red? Where’s your team spirit St Croix?
Wausau – Throwing snowballs, stones, arrows or other objects is illegal ($50 fine).
Stones and arrows I get. But snowballs? This is Wisconsin dammit! Let us have a little fun during winter.
Do you know of any more crazy Wisconsin state or city laws? Tell us about it in the comments below. Better yet, tell us why you think they became a law!
If you liked this crazy Wisconsin story – there’s much more where that came from.
- Check out WhooNEW’s collection of Uniquely Wisconsin articles!
- Get this Wisconsin Love T-shirt if you love it!
Like WhooNEW on Facebook. Or if you’re really cool – Subscribe by Email for free! Enter your email below or in the sidebar under Scoots the Owl.
Wisconsin Reporter – Kevin Binversie is a Wisconsin native who has been blogging on the state’s political culture for more than eight years. He has served in the George W. Bush administration from 2007-2009, worked at the Heritage Foundation and has worked on numerous Wisconsin Republican campaigns in various capacities, most recently as research director for Ron Johnson for Senate.
Real Strange Laws – practicing attorney/author, Nathan Belofsky, Esq. the world’s leading authority on strange laws.
- The Bees Knees Daily – via Flickr – Oleo
- VTrans – via Flickr – tracks
- Chris Bartle – via Flickr – dogs
- Yelp, Inc. – via Flickr – Cheese
- Peter Dedina – via Flickr – clocks
- jshildreth – via Flickr – adultery
- wikipedia – microchip implant
- seldom scene photography – via flickr
- Wisconsin dept. of natural resources – via flickr – muskrat house
- Bill – via flickr – deer
- Omar Chatriwala – via flickr – chicks