Many of the so-called strange Utah laws touted about online turned out to be either outdated or non-existent, however the following were found to be valid laws.
Photo by: Issac Kohane
It is illegal to hunt whales in Utah. This is one of the strange Utah laws that is true in a sense, but only on a national level. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) text of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) section 102 (2)(f) “It is unlawful for any person or vessel or other conveyance to take any species of whale incident to commercial whaling in waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States”. Luckily no body of water in Utah contains any species of whale so breaking this law isn’t likely to happen.
Selling alcohol in an emergency
It is illegal to sell alcohol in an emergency. If a state of emergency is ever declared in Utah, you may want to think twice about running to the store for your favorite brand of alcohol. Legally, alcohol venders may not be able to sell you any but it all depends on whether or not the governor says it’s okay. Utah Code 32B-4-407 states “During a period of emergency proclaimed by the governor to exist in an area of the state, it is unlawful for a person to sell, offer for sale, or furnish an alcoholic product in that area if the director publicly announces and directs that in that area a person may not sell, offer for sale, or furnish an alcoholic product in that area during the period of emergency.”
Marrying family members
Photo by: Evan Forester
It is illegal to marry a close family member or have sexual relations with them. As disturbing as this is, the state of Utah felt the need to cover topics related to marriage or incest multiple times throughout the Utah Code. Section 30-1-1 states “The following marriages are incestuous and void from the beginning, whether the relationship is legitimate or illegitimate:
(a) marriages between parents and children;
(b) marriages between ancestors and descendants of every degree;
(c) marriages between brothers and sisters of the half as well as the whole blood;
(d) marriages between uncles and nieces or aunts and nephews;
(e) marriages between first cousins, [unless] both parties are 65 years of age or older; or if both parties are 55 years of age or older [and] either party is unable to reproduce.”
While Utah Code 30-1-1 fails to mention criminal charges for incestuous marriages, section 76-7-102 adds that incest (regardless of marriage) is in fact a third degree felony.
Large containers of beer prohibited
Another weird law pertaining to alcohol: only retailers are allowed to possess containers of beer larger than two liters. Long -time residents of Utah may be familiar with this law, but those new to the area may wonder why police always break up parties where kegs of beer are located. Utah Code 32B-4-406 (1) (b) states “a person may not purchase or possess beer in a container that exceeds two liters.” The only exception for buying or possessing large containers of beer is when it is between licensed alcohol retailers.
Photo by: Eric Molina
No biting during ultimate fighting matches. Surprisingly, Utah actually allows ultimate fighting matches to begin with but no, biting is not allowed. Neither is “direct, intentional, and forceful strikes to the eyes, groin area, adam’s apple area of the neck, and temple area of the head” according to Utah Code 76-9-705. Additionally “using anything that is not part of the human body, except for boxing gloves, to intentionally inflict serious bodily injury upon an opponent through direct contact or the expulsion of a projectile” and “striking a person who demonstrates an inability to protect himself from the advances of an opponent” are prohibited.
Consult attorney about strange Utah laws
If you are ever unsure about strange Utah laws it is best to consult with an attorney to ensure there any action you take will not have a threat of criminal charges. If you have already been charged with a crime, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.