Some laws outdated, humorous

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Some laws are so old or out-of-date they may not even be enforceable.

“There are laws about how fast an animal can go through a covered bridge without being arrested,” said Paul Layshock of Warren.

Other examples include that Ohio women are prohibited from wearing patent leather shoes in public, that it’s illegal to fish in the state for whales on Sunday or have more than five women living in the same house.

In Pennsylvania, housewives are banned from hiding dirt under a rug, residents are prohibited from singing in the bathtub and fireworks retailers are only allowed to sell fireworks to out-of-state residents.

In Ohio, fireworks purchasers must sign a form promising to take their fireworks out of the state within 48 hours.

“You know it’s fraud, I know it’s fraud, members of the General Assembly know it’s fraud,” said state Rep. Ron Gerberry, D-Austintown.

Some feel the same way about Ohio’s law prohibiting smoking in bars and restaurants. WKBN previously uncovered those laws are rarely enforced.

“And those bar owners may be cited once in a while but they’re not going to be cited routinely,” Gerberry said.

Gerberry said he believes there is a shortage of inspectors to check every business.

One local prosecutor believes the public is simply more willing to overlook the problem.

“Even though it may technically be illegal, they don’t consider the behavior outrageous enough that it should rise to a criminal level,” said Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains.

For Ohio’s law banning texting and driving, some believe enforcement may be difficult but the aim is to change how society views the practice.

“Now that people at least know that it’s illegal  and that there is a law in place, they’re more likely to change the way they behave,” said state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman.

Schiavoni said there’s plenty of legislation passed that’s only goal is to make a political statement.

“It’s a knee jerk reaction that, ‘Oh, I have to do something in this particular situation to make the people at home happy,’” Schiavoni said. “That’s not good legislation often times.”

In the end, it may be society that decides if a particular law should be enforced.

“The old story that citizens get the type of law enforcement that they want is true,” Gains said.

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