SHERIFF'S CORNER: Weird, humorous and lesser-known laws

With all the gloom and doom going on these past few weeks, I thought I would change the tone of this week's article to a topic that could possibly make you laugh or at least take your mind off things for a few minutes.

Laws are continuously changing to adjust to the times we live in. However, there are some funny and lesser known laws still on the books that are from a different time and/or trivial at best.

In this edition of the "Sheriff's Corner," I discuss humorous, odd and little-known laws in Michigan.

— Adultery (750.29-31)

A person is guilty of a felony for "sleeping" with a person that is married to someone else. However, the complaint must be made by the spouse of the violator, and must be made within one year from the time it occurred.

— Cutting Hair (339.1203)

Unless you are licensed as a barber, cosmetologist, college student in either of these programs while in training, or an immediate family member ... you are guilty of a misdemeanor. The law states: “An individual shall not perform any form of cosmetology services, with or without compensation, on any individual other than a member of his or her immediate family without a license under this article.”

— Bottle Deposit Law (445.571)

Ever wonder why there is a 10-cent deposit on some cans and bottles, but not on others? The law only requires a deposit on a limited type of drink.

Only “beverage containers” require a deposit and may be taken back. A beverage container under the law means a “soft drink, soda water, carbonated natural or mineral water, or other nonalcoholic carbonated drink; beer, ale, or other malt drink of whatever alcoholic content; or a mixed wine drink or a mixed spirit drink."

— Being Drunk on a Train (436.201)

You can drink a beer or have a mixed drink on a train, but don't drink too much. The law states: "No person shall while in an offensive state of intoxication enter or be on or remain upon any railway train or interurban car as a passenger. “ Violation would be guilty of a misdemeanor.

— Sunday Car Sales (435.251)

Ever wonder why the car dealerships are closed on Sunday? You probably thought for religious reasons, or how a car dealer needs a break after chasing you down in the parking lot six days a week. Actually, it is against the law and a misdemeanor. The law states: "It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to engage in the business of buying, selling, trading or exchanging new, used or second-hand motor vehicles or offering to buy, sell, trade or exchange ... on the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday."

— Golf Cart Ordinance (257.657)

A "small" local unit of government has the ability to adopt an ordinance allowing golf carts to be driven on the roadway. However, there are conditions that have to be met. The law states: "A village or city having a population of fewer than 30,000 individuals ... may by resolution allow the operation of golf carts on the streets of that village or city. " There is also the same provision for townships. Some additional terms are: You must be at least 16 years of age, only operate during daylight hours, not drive faster than 15 miles per hour, and not drive on a road that has a speed limit of 30 mph or more.

Unless this ordinance is adopted, they are considered ORVs and must meet the same requirements as such.

— Seduction of an Unmarried Woman (750.532)

Before we go any further, let's define what "seduce" is.

Seduce: "To persuade or induce to have sexual relations." So, basically there will be no talking any woman into scrumpin' or the hibidy-dibidy until marriage. The law states: "Any man, who shall seduce and debauch any unmarried woman shall be guilty of a felony, punishable by ... not more than 5 years or by fine... of 2,500 dollars."

Now, wait, this says "unmarried woman," so if an unmarried man was seduced ... looks like you are in the clear.

— Long Semi Trailers (257.719)

There is a limit to the single length that a semi trailer can be when driving on a secondary or local road.

Trailers longer than 50 feet can only travel on special designated highways or a national truck network and are limited to a maximum length of 53 feet. Most of them are lettered (53') on the front corners of the trailer. The only legal highways in Lake County for this length is US-10 and M-37.

— Wildlife as Pets (317.80)

It is illegal to keep wild animals as pets, or to be in possession of them, without a special permit. The law states: "A Permit to Hold Game in Captivity is required for the possession ... badger, bobcat, fox, raccoon, coyote, beaver, otter, muskrat, mink, squirrel, skunk, woodchuck, opossum, pheasant, bobwhite, quail, Hungarian partridge, ducks, geese, and wild turkeys. Michigan game animals not listed above may not be possessed under a Permit to Hold Game in Captivity.” Also, only licensed wildlife rehabilitators can possess injured or orphaned animals from the wild.

— Selling of Horse or Dog Meat (750.477)

The law states: Any person who shall knowingly sell any horse or dog meat unless plainly labelled shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

I thought this was pretty gross and really not an option. Well, it is on the books. Making horses into meat is pretty much illegal, but for years the U.S. has allowed horses to be shipped to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada. There was a bill at the federal level to make this practice illegal, but it died for no action being taken.

— Items Exempt from Seizure (600.6023)

Courts can issue orders for the seizure of your personal assets or property to pay off a judgment that someone has against you. You are entitled to keep certain animals that are exempt from seizure.

Those items include: "...10 sheep, 2 cows, 5 swine, 100 hens, 5 roosters, and a sufficient quantity of hay and grain, growing or otherwise, for properly keeping the animals and poultry for 6 months."

— Drinking in a Boat (324.80176)

Unlike your car, you are allowed to partake in drinking alcoholic beverages as long as you are not operating the boat under the influence. It is also illegal for the owner of the boat to allow anyone else to operate their boat if that person is under the influence. Violation is guilty of a misdemeanor.

— 3-Wheeled ATC/ATV (324.81129)

In 1988, the feds banned the sale of three-wheeled ATVs, claiming a large amount of injuries and deaths. The industry decided to convert to 4-wheelers. So, there is never been a law making them illegal to possess or ride, they can no longer be manufactured or sold from a dealer. There are a few restrictions that have been put in place regarding usage. The law states: "A parent or legal guardian of a child less than 16 years of age shall not permit the child to operate a 3-wheeled ATV ...

"A child who is less than 16 years of age shall not operate a 3-wheeled ATV." Locally, violation of this is a municipal civil infraction.

— Trailer Plate Placement (257.225)

I see this quite often on probably 50 percent of the plates on trailers. As it is easier for the limited space given on trailers to plate them long-ways, usually on the fender, it is technically illegal. This is something that is usually overlooked since we like to see that you at least have one.

The law states: "A registration plate shall at all times be securely fastened in a horizontal position to the vehicle for which the plate is issued so as to prevent the plate from swinging. The plate shall be attached at a height of not less than 12 inches from the ground, measured from the bottom of the plate, in a place and position which is clearly visible. The plate shall be maintained free from foreign materials that obscure or partially obscure the registration information, and in a clearly legible condition."

Violation of this is a civil infraction.

— Sleeping with Farm Animals (Clawson)

There is a law that makes it legal for a farmer to sleep with his pigs, cows, horses, goats, and chickens.

— Relations in Vehicles (Detroit)

Couples are banned from making love in a vehicle unless the act takes place while the vehicle is parked on the couple’s own property.

— Pigs Running Loose (Detroit)

It is illegal to allow your pig to run free unless it has a ring in its nose. Apparently, this very practical for those with pet pigs, as well as others who are urban pig farmers. Have you ever tried to catch a loose pig? Even if the pig is not greased, they can be very difficult to apprehend. The nose ring provides a safe place to grip and keep the pig subdued.

— Smoking in Bed (Sault Ste. Marie)

It is illegal to smoke while in a bed in the Soo. I guess we all would like to hear the story behind this one.

— Cow Parking (Wayland)

I'm sure you are happy to hear that if your car breaks down when visiting Wayland, you have another option ... a cow. Anyone can keep their cow on Main Street downtown at a cost of 3 cents per day.

— Serenading Your Girlfriend (Kalamazoo)

Forget bringing out your acoustic guitar or your banjo to sing sweet nothings outside your lady friends window. It is against the law to serenade your girlfriend in the Mall City.

This information is provided to you for clarification of specific laws, and not legal advice. This is not to be construed as a personal opinion, agreement or disagreement of any specific law.

If you have any questions on any specific topic, you can always email me your questions to

As always, it is an honor serving and working for all of you who live, visit and work in Lake County. Working together, we can make a difference.