Weird Laws in Louisiana

Without laws, Louisiana wouldn’t be a safe or pleasant place to live. Residents and tourists would be free to do whatever they want without any recourse. Thankfully, state laws and city ordinances keep order.

The vast majority of laws are not surprising. You can’t take items that don’t belong to you. You can’t hurt an animal or another person. You can’t drive recklessly and endanger someone else’s safety.

And yet other laws are a little more obscure and downright unexpected. Some laws give us insight into human behavior, because if it’s illegal to take a bath in Baton Rouge’s Capitol Lake, that means someone actually did it!

Here’s a roundup of some of Louisiana’s weirdest laws.

Weird Laws That Govern Parades

Louisianans love a parade, especially during Mardi Gras. Several laws govern parade activity and you may not have heard of any of them.

Shriners who are “in good standing” with the organization may obtain special license plates. However, you can’t put Shriner license plates on any old vehicle. The car must be “painted in the Shrine colors” and used in parades and other Shriner-related activities. (RS 47:463.9)

When Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Campfire Girls must cross a toll bridge during a parade route, they don’t have to pay any toll fees. They do have to wear their uniforms to cross for free. But does that mean everyone else in the parade has to stop and pay a toll? (RS 48:971 and RS 48:999)

Police and firefighters can’t be shy about any medals they earned. By law, they have to wear their medals “when in service or on parade.” The law doesn’t state the punishment if they lose their medals or forget them at home. (RS 33:1944)

If you attend a Mardi Gras parade that begins and ends between 6 a.m. and midnight on the same day, you may have limited recourse for any personal injuries. If someone on a float throws items such as “beads, cups, coconuts, and doubloons” into the crowd, individuals assume the risk of being hurt. (Most people wouldn’t expect coconuts to be on this list!) However, the organization or krewe may bear liability for your injuries if the injury was a “deliberate and wanton act or gross negligence.” (RS 9:2796)

Weird Louisiana Laws About Animals

We must ensure an animal’s well-being, whether livestock or a household pet. But even the most die-hard animal lovers out there probably haven’t heard of these laws before.

Let’s hope you’re not running late if you come upon a cattle drive.

Vehicles must yield the right away to cattle on state highways if all of the following are true:

(1) The cattle are crossing from one portion of property owned or leased by a person to another portion of property owned or leased by that person when such portions of the property are divided by the highway.

(2) A flagman is directing traffic.

(3) A cattle crossing sign is posted by the Department of Transportation and Development at the request of the person who owns or leases such property.

This law begs so many questions: What’s the protocol if a herd of cattle jaywalks? Who has the right of way if there isn’t a flagman present? And most importantly, do cows ever willingly yield the right of way? (RS 32:126)

Louisiana doesn’t let just anyone hunt alligators. The industry is highly regulated. To qualify for a resident alligator hunters license, you must be a “bona fide resident.” To meet this strict requirement, an individual must have lived in the state continuously for 12 months before applying for a license; have any in-state vehicles registered in Louisiana; and paid state income taxes. Non-residents can obtain a license, but they have to jump through a few hoops first. (RS 56:8)

If you’re looking to earn a little extra money and you live near the water, you’re in luck. The state has a so-called “bounty on beaver” law. When designated funds are available, you can receive a minimum of $5 for killing a beaver. The dead beaver must be presented to a bona fide or licensed alligator farm. (RS 3:3031)

Miscellaneous Odd Laws in Louisiana

There are some obscure laws on the books that are entertaining but ultimately defy categorization.

It’s illegal to sell “a dashboard, hood, vehicle front grill, or vehicle roof mounted emergency light that emits a blue glow to any person.” This law is obviously in place to prevent an individual from impersonating a police officer, but, interestingly, the responsibility lies with the light bulb salesman. (RS 32:327)

Tailgating isn’t just annoying and unsafe. It’s illegal in Louisiana. The law prohibits a vehicle from following “another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent.” No word on what is “reasonable” and “prudent.” (RS 32:81)

Don’t get too fancy when you’re out for a bike ride. A person operating a bicycle must have at least one hand on the handlebars at all times. But where exactly does this leave unicycles? (RS 32:195)

The Pelican State takes funeral motorcades seriously. For starters, it is illegal to intentionally block, obstruct, or interfere with a funeral route. (RS 32:300.3) And if you are part of a funeral motorcade, you’re expected to behave accordingly. Because any motor vehicle that leaves a funeral procession cannot rejoin the procession. (RS 14:103)

Quirky Baton Rouge Laws

Our state capital has several city ordinances that some would say are downright quirky. Just remember that some of these ordinances were put in place to curb existing behavior or problems!

If you’re ever on a plane ride over Baton Rouge, you don’t want to be caught littering. It’s against the law to “throw out, drop or deposit” any object from a plane. (Sec. 6:441)

Beekeepers must provide their beehives with “a convenient source of water” at all times. There’s no further discussion on what a bee may or may not define as “convenient.” (Sec. 6:665)

It’s a matter of semantics, but interestingly enough, both fish and humans are excluded from the city ordinance’s definition of “animal.” And pet owners and dog walkers may want to reconsider the use of longer leashes. A dog that is on a leash longer than six feet may be considered “at large.” (Sec. 14:110)

And did you know that ferrets over the age of three months must be vaccinated against rabies? (Sec. 14:200)

If you plan to rehome your dog or cat, be mindful of where the exchange takes place. It’s illegal to sell, trade, or give away a live animal in certain locations, including a median, a commercial or retail parking lot, and next to a public swimming pool. (Sec. 14:215.1)

Baton Rouge’s ordinances make it clear that the city is not free-range friendly. It’s against the law to drive livestock on any city-parish streets. It’s also illegal for livestock to graze on golf courses. And we’re very sorry, but the law does pertain to llamas, too. (Sec. 14:220)

“Entertainment establishments” must be closed from “2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and 12:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. on Sunday.” This law is sensible, but the penalties are especially harsh. Anyone who operates during these prohibited hours could face a $1,000 fine and a jail sentence of up to six months for each day of violation. (Sec. 13:1063)

To prevent prostitution, hotels and motels in our capital city cannot rent rooms on an hourly basis but it’s illegal to rent out a room more than once in 18 hours. (Sec. 13:1062)

If you want to go skinny-dipping, you’ll have to do it in a private pool or go to another city. It’s illegal to enter a Baton Rouge public pool, pond, lake, or river “in a state of nudity.” If you’re caught, you could be fined $500. (Sec. 13:1008)

Be mindful of where you shine a laser pointer or flashlight. Or, at least ask permission first. It’s illegal to aim a light or laser pointer at someone without their consent, possibly because it could incite fear that someone is targeting them with a laser gun sight. No word on how cats feel about this particular law. (Sec. 13:502)

Some laws make good sense, but are highly specific. For example, it’s illegal to urinate “on the streets, in the gutters, on the sidewalks, or in alleys, driveways, or other places near the streets, alleys, sidewalks, or other places of public resort.” We’re glad this rule is in place, and the ordinance clearly covers all bases. (Sec. 13:106.2)

And please, mind your manners when you’re in Baton Rouge. It is illegal to use “indecent, vile, profane, or blasphemous language” in many public spaces. We’re not saying you’ll be arrested, but you can’t be too careful or polite. (Sec. 13:106.1)

Don’t think you’re going to be able to just walk away with that shopping cart. It’s a misdemeanor to steal a cart or basket from a store. That’s a pretty silly thing to have a criminal record for, so please return the carts and baskets when you’re done with them. (Sec. 13:68.3)

Everyone already knows that under most circumstances it’s illegal to take an item that doesn’t belong to you. But there is a city ordinance that specifically makes it illegal to steal “commercial crawfish from any crawfish farm” without the owner’s consent. You have to wonder what sort of escapades happened before this was an ordinance. (Sec. 13:67.5)

It’s considered “criminal mischief” to drive a nail over one-half inch in length into a tree on someone else’s property. There’s no word on what happens if you use a quarter-inch nail. (Sec. 13:59)

You might want to keep your windows shut during your kid’s weekly tuba lessons. Baton Rouge prohibits most noises at “such volume as to disturb the peace, quiet, comfort, or repose of persons.” And who knew that you break the law if you use your car horn “except as a danger signal”? (Sec. 12:101)

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, it is illegal to take a bath in Capitol Lake. Maybe it’s just us, but that does seem like an odd place to lather up. (Sec. 3:52)

If you’re into archaeology or soil research, stick with shovels and a pickaxe. A Baton Rouge ordinance prohibits the use of explosive dynamite to obtain “geophysical and/or geological information.” Does that mean that dynamite is legal under other circumstances? (Sec. 2:59)

Weird Laws are Still Laws

It’s fun to read over some of the state’s more obscure laws. But here’s a friendly (and serious) reminder that a law is a law, no matter what you or anyone else thinks of it. You could still face charges if you break a law, even if it is funny, weird, or questionable.

If you do find yourself facing criminal charges or someone else’s actions hurt you, consult an attorney. You don’t want to go through a court case or personal injury claim without adequate legal representation. You have rights, no matter what you’ve undergone or the authorities accuse you of doing.

What type of attorney should I call?

Criminal defense attorneys can help represent you if you are arrested for or charged with offenses like theft, drunk driving, reckless driving, or assault.

If someone else’s negligence hurts you, call a personal injury attorney. Most personal injury law firms offer a free consultation. During this meeting, you can learn if your case has legal merit and if you may pursue a settlement or court award.

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