Phoenix, AZ

8 of the strangest laws in Phoenix

Ash Jurberg

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I was lucky enough to visit Arizona for the first time this year. We spent several days in Phoenix and Sedona, and before the end of the trip, we were already planning our next trip back. As we were on our flight to Phoenix, I researched Arizona and saw that someone had posted on a travel forum a crazy Arizona law. This sparked my interest, and soon I found a whole bunch of weird Phoenix laws.

As a tourist, I found this interesting but wondered how many people who actually live in Phoenix are aware of some of these strange laws. And so, in the interest of educating the kind people of Phoenix, please find 8 truly bizarre Arizona laws.

1. I was surprised to see that Arizona has a “Stupid Motorist Law.” This statute, corresponding to section 28-910 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, was passed in 1995. It states that any driver who bypasses police-enforced barricades and becomes trapped is liable for emergency rescue costs. Funnily enough, when I picked up my rental car at Phoenix Airport, they didn't mention this law to me. Maybe I don't look like a Stupid Motorist?

2. Obviously, selling cocaine is illegal across all the USA, but in Arizona, state law 13-3453. states that creating imitation cocaine is a class 6 felony. Even if you are passing off sugar or flour as cocaine, you can be charged.

3. On my drive from Phoenix to Sedona, I passed many of the cacti that Arizona is famous for. I was unaware that cutting down any cacti can result in up to 25 years in prison. Even to remove a saguaro cactus that is on private property, the landowner will need to obtain a permit from the Arizona Department of Agriculture.

4. While drag racing is illegal in most places, you can actually challenge someone to a street race in Phoenix. If you get the approval of jurisdiction officials, you can stage a street race. I wonder if this conflicts with the Stupid Motorist Law?

5. If any misdemeanor crime is committed while the perpetrator is wearing a red mask, it will be considered a felony—no word on whether other color masks are allowed. Probably best to avoid all colored masks.

6. Phoenix lawmakers must like clean criminals. If a person is caught stealing soap, they must wash themselves with it until it is fully gone. I wonder if the police wait and watch?

7. For all the people who enjoy fishing- it is illegal to leave a fishing pole unattended.

8. One from the Phoenix City code. “No person shall operate a vehicle on or across any portion of a vacant lot other than on an established dust-proof driveway.” Not sure how a driver can check whether the driveway is dustproof or not.

9. Donkeys can not sleep in bathtubs. This one really intrigued me, so I dug a bit deeper in the donkey backstory. Apparently, in 1924, a merchant used to allow his donkey to sleep in an old bathtub. A local dam broke and flooded the town, and the poor donkey, stuck in the tub, was washed a mile down the valley before he finally landed in a basin. The town spent a lot of money and human resources to rescue the donkey and soon after passing the law.

10. It is illegal to refuse someone a glass of water. This one makes sense given the extreme heat of a Phoenix summer. This means you can walk into any establishment and requests a glass of tap water. I did see Starbucks get around this law by offering free water but charging patrons for the cup. Perhaps I should have gone into a Starbucks in Phoenix with my own bottle and asked them to fill it up.

So readers of Arizona- how many of these laws have you broken? And are there any other weird laws that can be added to this list?

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