Odd laws

I was commenting on a post over at Weer’d Beard’s place this morning, and I thought that Virginia had a law addressing that type of situation (requiring someone to report found money), so I did some searching on the intertubes. Well, I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I did stumble across a couple of odd laws that are on the books –  things you wouldn’t think are actually illegal unless you actually looked.

A business in Virginia actually has to get a permit to conduct a “going out of business” sale.

§ 18.2-223. “Going out of business” sales; permit required.

It shall be unlawful for any person to advertise, or conduct, a sale for the purpose of discontinuing a retail business, or to modify the word “sale” in any advertisement with the words “going out of business” or any other words which tend to insinuate that the retail business is to be discontinued and the merchandise liquidated, unless such person obtains a permit to conduct such sale from the city, town or county, or from each city, town or county, wherein such sale is to be conducted.

A violation of the provisions of this section shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Not something most people would think of before actually advertising the sale, is it? While I could see that such a sale might be punishable as fraud if the store isn’t actually going out of business, I doubt anyone would think that not getting permission from the government for the sale would be a crime punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2500 fine!

For another one most people wouldn’t think of, it’s illegal to carry a cane resembling the stereotypical blind person’s cane.

§ 18.2-212.1. Unlawful for person not blind or incapacitated to carry white, white tipped with red or metallic cane.

It is unlawful for any person, unless totally or partially blind or otherwise incapacitated, while on any public street or highway to carry in a raised or extended position a cane or walking stick which is metallic or white in color or white tipped with red. Any person violating any provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.

It looks like this one hasn’t been updated since 1975, so it doesn’t seem to take in to account the fact that most canes nowadays are “metallic in color” – because most canes today are unpainted, brushed aluminium. The only saving grace is the exclusion for those who are “otherwise incapacitated”, which should include pretty much anyone who actually needs to use a cane, and the bit about carrying it ” in a raised or extended position”, which probably doesn’t apply to the normal use of a cane. But I would bet that the average person wouldn’t even consider the idea that carrying a cane in a certain way would actually be a crime that would cost a $250 fine.

The more I see how complicated and obscure our system of laws is, the more I am convinced that it needs to be regularly “reset” somehow.


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1 Comment

  1. I hate these dumb laws because even if they aren’t currently being enforced there is NOTHING to stop the police from selectively enforcing them as a means to strongarm an otherwise lawful person who likely is just as unaware of his “violation” as most police would be.

    Oh and interesting story is my father-in-law had a brief bout of blindness (thankfully his sight has since been restored to legal sightedness) he had one of the standard collapsible white-and-red cane to help him around. There has been more than a few occasions that while out with him I’d hold the cane for him if he needed to use both hands to perform a task, or stow it in a vehicle.

    I guess I’m lucky to not be facing charges, huh?

    Stupid laws, great post!


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