While our legal system in the US is one to be respected, there are still a few strange laws that slip through the cracks. You may go your entire life without encountering a weird law, or you could be slapped with a penalty for an unknown violation.
Depending on where you live, your favorite restaurant could be affected by a wacky local law, like:
- Don’t get drunk in a bar. Although this seems like an oxymoron, Texas makes it legal for police officers to arrest a person anywhere for public intoxication, including in a restaurant or bar. Unfortunately, unethical cops can use this law to profile minorities to make undocumented immigrant arrests, defeating the true purpose of the law in the first place.
- Don’t take your lunch to go. In Riverside, California, you’re not allowed to carry your lunch down the street from 11 AM to 1 PM. For whatever reason, this law encourages busy workers to sit down and eat their lunches in a restaurant or else risk a penalty.
- Don’t take your wine with you. In many states, it’s now perfectly legal to re-cork a bottle of wine and take it with you if you can’t finish it. This helps to prevent the unfortunate offense of overindulging and drinking and driving. However, in Mississippi, re-corking isn’t permitted under any circumstance; wine must be finished or left at the table.
- Don’t drink on an empty stomach. In the state of Utah, it’s illegal to serve a restaurant patron a drink without them ordering food. Of course, Utah also deems it illegal to advertise drink specials in a restaurant or bar, making the practice of going out for a few cocktails very difficult indeed.
- Don’t eat without a security guard. Although eating in a restaurant may seem like an innocent enough task, a city council ordinance was proposed in Newark, New Jersey, to require restaurants that serve 15 or fewer people and stay open later than 9 PM to hire armed security guards. Fortunately, this strange proposal was overturned by the mayor.
While most of these bizarre dining laws probably won’t affect you the next time you eat at a restaurant, it helps to understand the ins and outs of local rulings to prevent a potential violation. Once you become comfortable with state laws in your area, you can rest easy when you dine out with family and friends.