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October 28, 2015

The Stories Behind Arizona’s Weirdest Laws

shutterstock_270251351Every state in the U.S. has its own set of weird and crazy laws that were enacted due to some wild historical event. While these laws are no longer part of Arizona’s Revised Statutes in effect today, it is interesting to think about a time in which someone could have actually been arrested for things which seem so trivial today. The Blumenreich Law Firm, Arizona’s premiere criminal lawyer, finds value in all manner of law – historical, current or pending.

Law #1: it is illegal to hunt camels.
While this law may have existed at one point in time, no such regulation exists today. In 1855 Jefferson Davis, the secretary of war, convinced the U.S. Army to import herds of camels from the Middle East as means of transport for freight and men. Buyers transported two groups of the animals through Texas and into Arizona – the first group consisting of 33 camels and the second consisting of 44.

The camels were a hit! Locals loved them and they were able to withstand the desert heat while carrying two to three times as much as traditional Army mules.  Crowds of adoring fans would gather wherever the camels went.

Unfortunately, the Civil War brought the Army’s experiment to an end. Future camel-acquisition expeditions were halted in light of political conflict. The remaining camels either escaped into the wild or were sold, at which point camel hunting was declared illegal. To this day there are myths of camels wandering the desert, but none of these reports are substantiated.

Law #2: it is illegal for women to wear pants in Tucson.
This “law” is more of a half-truth than anything else. Over a century ago it was illegal for Tucson residents to appear in public wearing clothing “not of his or her sex.” This could have technically applied to women wearing pants, but no article of clothing is specifically mentioned. The Tucson Police Department certainly pays no heed to this law even if it does still exist today.

Law #3: it is illegal for more than six unrelated women to live in a house together in Maricopa County
This law came about as an anti-prostitution measure back in the Old West. At the time the law came into place, brothels were commonplace in Maricopa County. Students at ASU cite this “law” as the reason for their lack of sorority and fraternity houses, but the truth is no such law is in effect today. The real reason for their lack of Greek houses is most likely due to a zoning restriction in effect that prohibits more than four people living together.

Law #4: donkeys cannot sleep in bathtubs.
This crazy law was brought into effect due to a public menace case in 1924. A merchant near Kingman used to allow his donkey to sleep in an old bathtub. The town was flooded when a local dam broke and the donkey, still in the tub, was washed a mile down the valley with the rising waters before he finally landed in a basin. The donkey survived the trip, but locals spent a lot of time, manpower and, as you can imagine, money to rescue the animal. A law banning donkeys in bathtubs was passed shortly thereafter. Similar laws exist in South Carolina and New York, but for different reasons, we’re sure.

Law #5: it is illegal to refuse someone a glass of water
Arizona summers can top 120°F, so it is easy to see how this law came into effect as a public health and safety measure. This law is heavily monitored and businesses can be fined for refusing to provide water either in cups or by way of a water fountain (people may still be charged for bottled water). Starbucks famously got around this law by charging not for the water itself, but for the cup. For the most part, however, Arizona businesses adhere to this law as a humanitarian measure.

Law #6: it is illegal to cut down a Saguaro.
To remove a saguaro cactus on private property residents will need to obtain a permit from the Arizona Department of Agriculture. Damaging a saguaro on public land is also illegal and can result in heavy fines as well as a 25-year prison sentence. These laws were enacted due to vandals back in the Old West who shot and cut down cactuses for sport.

Laws are constantly changing through time and evolving to suit modern needs and technology. While many of these laws are no longer in effect, it is still wise to be aware of your state’s legal history as an indicator of which issues are important to both residents and state legislators. To ask The Blumenreich Law Firm about your own battle with the law, call today and receive a free consultation.

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