Strangest Laws in West Virginia

It’s illegal to own a black or red flag in West Virginia. Also, you may be arrested for taunting someone who doesn’t want to participate in a duel. These are just a few of the crazy laws in the ‘Mountain State’.

Some of these ordinances have stood the test of time and law enforcement officials are not too keen on following up with them. Other laws have gone through revisions and amendments so that they can reflect the changing times, while others have been repealed.

Below is a fascinating list of eight strange laws from West Virginia. Some hail from municipalities, some are from the state Constitution but all are funny. 

1. Don’t fly a black or red flag

According to WV code Chapter 61 Sec.1-6, “It shall be unlawful for any person to have in his possession or to display any red or black flag, or to display any other flag, emblem, device or sign of any nature whatever, indicating sympathy with or support of ideals, institutions or forms of government, hostile, inimical or antagonistic to the form or spirit of the constitution, laws, ideals, and institutions of this state or of the United States.” This edict was however repealed in 2010.

2. You may be fined for wearing a hat in a theatre

Another repealed WV law stated that “No person attending any performance at any theater, hall or opera house, or any such building where theatrical or other performances are given, when an admission fee is charged, shall wear upon his or her head any hat, bonnet or covering for the head which may obstruct the view of any person or persons during the performance in such theater.”

3. There is a 1% tax on every 16 and 9 ounces of soft drinks sold in a store

Since 1951, West Virginia has imposed a tax on the sale, use, handling, or distribution of all bottled soft drinks and all soft drink syrups, whether manufactured within or without the state, as follows; on each bottled soft drink, a tax of one cent on each sixteen and nine-tenths fluid ounces, or fraction thereof, or on each one-half liter, or fraction thereof contained therein. 

When starting a business in West Virginia, you need to understand the rules that the state imposes on businesses. Perhaps these guides on how to start an LLC in West Virginia and how to find a great registered agent in West Virginia can help you avoid any legal issues when opening or doing business in the state.

4. You can be fined a dollar for swearing in public

Beware not to get drunk or swear in public within the state of West Virginia. Doing so will get you in trouble with the law and you will be fined a dollar for each offence.

5. Participating in a duel disqualifies you for public office.

Any citizen of West Virginia who shall, either in or out of the state, fight a duel with deadly weapons, or send or accept a challenge to do so, or who shall act as a second, or knowingly aid or assist in the duel, shall never thereafter be capable of holding any office of honor, trust or profit in the state.

6. You could be jailed for six months for taunting someone who doesn’t want to participate in a duel

West Virginia code 61-2-24 states that, “If any person post another, or in writing or in print use any reproachful or contemptuous language to or concerning another, for not fighting a duel, or for not sending or accepting a challenge, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, shall be confined in jail not more than six months, or fined not exceeding one hundred dollars.”

7. It’s illegal for firemen to flirt 

In Huntington County, firemen are prohibited by law from flirting with or whistling at 

women who are passing a firehouse and, in Nicholas County, no member of the clergy is allowed to tell jokes or humorous stories from the pulpit during a church service.

8. Unmarried couples who live together and “lewdly associate” can be jailed for six months

If an unmarried couple lewdly and lasciviously associates and cohabits together, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, shall be fined not less than fifty dollars, and may, in the discretion of the court, be imprisoned not exceeding six months, and, upon a repetition of the offense, they shall, upon conviction, be confined in jail not less than six nor more than twelve months. 

Sources

West Virginia Code – §6-5-7 
West Virginia Code – 61-8-15
West Virginia Code – §11-19-1
Stupid Laws
The Hur Herald

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