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25 Weird Laws in Maine That Will Make You Scratch Your Head

The Pine Tree State is known for a lot of great things, including fresh lobster, seaside views, and tall ships. But did you know that there are a lot of weird laws in Maine?

From gambling to spitting to owning exotic animals to Christmas decorations, Maine’s weird laws really run the gamut of absurdity.

Some of these laws are still on the books today and are rooted in Maine’s history. Others have been lost to the ages or repealed because they became outdated or they plain just don’t make sense.

In fact, many of these laws were likely enacted at one time or another as blue laws, designed to prohibit the sale of certain items or dissuade people from engaging in certain activities on Sundays.

Some of the laws you’ll read about below may make you laugh. Others may make you cry or scratch your head. No matter the reason for their existence, the odds are that you’ll agree they’re all just downright weird.

Donuts
Biddeford, Maine

Gambling Is Not Allowed at Biddeford Airport

Gambling is fun in moderation, but don’t try it at Biddeford Airport. An article in the Biddeford Code of Ordinances forbids engaging in behavior that causes a nuisance, including gambling, disorderly behavior, and drunken behavior.

Ellsworth City Laws Supersede Federal or State Laws

Some of the weirdest laws you’re bound to find are the ones that seem to contradict other laws. That certainly seems to be the case in Ellsworth, which allegedly has laws that say if any of its city ordinances are more stringent than federal or state laws, the Ellsworth laws will supersede them.

Such devotion to city law may cause some conflict with state and federal laws, but the odds are that you’ll be following someone’s law somewhere.

Parking in Front of a Dunkin’ in South Berwick Is Prohibited

Mainers love their Dunkin’ doughnuts… a lot. In fact, there are more than 150 locations in the state. But if you’re trying to get your morning Dunkin’ fix in South Berwick, don’t park in front of the store.

The reason is quite simple — Lots of people come in for their morning coffees and glazed doughnuts and the law helps cut down on traffic congestion.

Advertising Is Illegal in Wells Cemeteries

Folks in Wells Maine take the upkeep of their cemeteries very seriously. As such, different city codes prohibit littering in cemeteries; operating snowmobiles, trail bikes, and the like in cemeteries; and removing a person’s remains.

The law also prohibits the posting of signs, except those having to do with the cemetery, placards, and historical markets. That means no advertising in cemeteries. So if you’re itching to put up a billboard to promote your business, it’s best to pick a different spot.

To be honest, most cemeteries in Maine ban advertising – almost as many as ban skateboards and rollerblades on sidewalks – so keep your signs clear of these areas.

Roller stakin

Rollerskating on Biddleford Sidewalks Is Punishable With a Fine

Strolling on city sidewalks in Biddeford Maine is perfectly ok. But don’t try anything more than that.

A city ordinance strictly forbids riding bicycles or rollerskating on public sidewalks. Don’t try to skirt the rules either because it will cost you. The ordinance states that anyone who violates this law may be subject to a $10 fine.

Attempting to Catch Lobsters Barehanded Is a Violation

Maine is famous for its lobster, and the lobster dishes that you find throughout Maine — including steamed lobster, lobster rolls, and lobster chowder — are some of the freshest you’ll find anywhere.

But don’t try to catch these crustaceans barehanded. Maine laws regarding lobster are in place to protect the population, and you may get in trouble if you attempt it. It’s pretty difficult anyway since lobsters hang out in deep, colder water.

Winning $3 in a Maine Poker Game Was the Limit

If you’re trying to unwind, sometimes there’s nothing better than getting together with friends for poker games and drinks.

But, even if you’re super competitive, don’t plan on winning much. One wacky law in Maine states that the most a person can legally win in a game of poker is just $3.

With the popularity of online sports betting these days, you can bet and win a lot more than $3. But, the history of Maine’s Legislature shows that there was such a law on the books before it was repealed.

Owning an Alligator Is Better Than Owning an Armadillo

Maine actually has some very strict laws regarding the possession of wildlife to protect the state’s residents and natural resources. Those restrictions also pertain to exotic animals like armadillos, elephants, venomous snakes, kangaroos, and several types of turtles.

If you want to own a pet alligator, though, the state only requires a permit to do so. Also, you can keep animals like genets and coatis without permits.

Biting Your Landlord in Rumford Is Out of the Question

No one likes having their rent go up, especially without warning. But, if your rent goes up in Rumford, it’s against the law to bite your landlord — no matter how tempted you may be to channel your inner vampire.

This infamous ordinance also pertains to cats, dogs, and other domestic animals. So if you can’t bite your landlord, don’t even think about sending your dog to do the job.

Gooch's Beach - Kennebunk, Maine
photo via @enzo_the_doxie_doggy

Letting Your Dog Run Loose Is Prohibited in Waterboro

Some days, there’s nothing better than going outside and taking your four-legged friend for a walk. But if you’re in Waterboro, make sure your pooch doesn’t wander too far.

The city prohibits dogs from running amok, and dog leashes cannot be more than 8 feet long. Weird or not, this law makes sense because it helps dog owners keep an eye on their furry friends and keep them out of trouble.

Staying Seated on a Maine Flight Is Required

Do you always have to fight the urge to jump out of a plane during a flight? No, you don’t? Well, don’t even think about trying to do it because it’s illegal in Maine.

Be that as it may, skydiving — where you can legally jump out of a plane — is not illegal in Maine, and there are many spots in the state if you’re seeking that rush of adrenaline. April to October is the best recommended time of year for jumping out of planes in Maine.

Keeping Your Christmas Decorations Up Too Long Was a No-No

There are, indeed, some weird laws in Maine, and one of the weirdest has to do with Christmas decorations. Can you really be fined for decking the halls beyond the Christmas season?

The simple answer is no. But, some cities in Maine had ordinances in place at one time or another that declared decorations must come down by Jan. 14. So, feel free to keep your Christmas lights and Christmas tree up as long as you want now.

Blowing-Nose

Blowing Your Nose in Public in Waterville Is Illegal

There are a lot of weird Maine laws, but this one has to be one of the oddest. In Waterville, it is illegal to blow your nose in public.

So, if you find yourself shuffling down the street in Waterville on a cold day and you feel your nose start to drip, find a bathroom quickly. Don’t even think about pulling out a handkerchief or even using your sleeve. If you do, you just might run afoul of the law.

Spitting on a Waterville or Portland Sidewalk Is Unlawful

While we’re on the subject of Waterville and personal hygiene, don’t even think about spitting on a sidewalk. This statute makes sense because there’s no place for spitting in public, especially when you’re trying to keep city sidewalks clean.

History shows there actually was a statute on the books in the Maine Legislature prohibiting spitting in public, but it seems to have been repealed.

Nonetheless, a Portland law was adopted in 1994 to prohibit people from spitting on public sidewalks, the floors of public buildings, and in any room where food is prepared for sale.

Using Bullets as Currency Is Against the Law

There are all kinds of ways to pay for things these days, including credit cards, cryptocurrency, and cold hard cash. But in Maine, you better think twice about using bullets to pay for your groceries because it’s against the law.

It is possible, perhaps, to barter ammo for items you need if you’re trading amongst friends, but let’s be honest, the conversion rate for bullets to U.S. dollars is too time-consuming to figure out.

Spitting From Two Stories Up Is Not Allowed in Freeport

We’ve covered spitting laws in other parts of Maine, but Freeport gets even more specific about spitting laws. Apparently, the town prohibits expectorating (that is to say spitting) from any second-story window.

If you’re absolutely dead set on hocking a loogie at someone, do the respectful thing and go down one flight of stairs. Or better yet, go down to the sidewalk before you let it fly.

Violin

Playing the Violin Is Unthinkable in Augusta

The hills can come alive with the sounds of music in Maine’s capital city, but leave your violin at home. If you want to jam out on the streets, bring a harmonica or banjo instead.

Selling Mercury Thermometers in Freeport Is a Violation

Have you ever been walking down a street in Maine and thought to yourself, “Hey, you know what I need? A mercury thermometer.”

If you have and you’re in Freeport, don’t even think about buying one. Local laws prohibit the sale and manufacture of these thermometers unless it’s by prescription. Even then, those who get them are given specific instructions on how to handle them.

This law does have some basis in reality. In 2001, the Freeport town council banned the sale of mercury thermometers after studies showed a high degree of mercury in rain samples. On average, the amount of mercury in one thermometer is enough to pollute an average-size lake.

Note: Mercury thermometers have been banned in the entire state of Maine.

Potato-Eating Farmers in Huberson Must Share With Their Pigs

The phrase “sharing is caring” is taken to a whole other level in Huberson Maine. Here, the law forbids residents, specifically pig farmers, from eating five potatoes without giving one to each pig they own.

Is this law actually true? It’s unlikely, especially as we can’t find Huberson on a map. But a Maine law passed several years ago allows leftover school food to be sent to pig farmers to be used as food. This helps cut down on food waste and gives farmers more feed to use on their farms.

Being Nice to Moose Is Required on Airplanes

Plenty of Maine laws will leave you scratching your head, and one of these says that it’s illegal to push a live moose from a moving aircraft.

We get it, moose are big and may block out your sight lines during a flight, but even if you’re feeling like you have Incredible Hulk-like strength, don’t attempt to remove the moose from the flight. The moose and the pilot will thank you.

Taking Shotguns to Church Is Necessary

Seeing guns of any kind in a church might be jarring to some people, but an old Maine blue law requires citizens of the Pine Tree State to carry shotguns into God’s house in case of an attack from Native Americans.

Article I of the Maine Constitution allows each citizen the right to keep and bear arms, and Maine is a constitutional carry state. While open carry may be allowed in church, it is forbidden in federal buildings and establishments that serve alcohol.

Hunting

Sunday Hunting Is Not Allowed in Maine

This law probably isn’t the strangest one on the books in Maine, but for more than 100 years, Mainers have been prohibited from hunting on Sundays.

However, this law doesn’t sit well with all Mainers. There have been nearly 40 instances in the last 50 years of proposals being introduced to end the Sunday hunting ban. The latest one from the Maine Hunters United for Sunday Hunting proposes Sunday bow hunting for a fee.

Deer Feeding Is Very Specific in Wells

If you’re the outdoorsy type, there’s something special about seeing a deer in the wild. But if you’re in Wells, you absolutely cannot feed the deer.

Among its town codes is the Deer Feeding Control Ordinance of the Town of Wells, which is in place to control the local deer population. Part of the law prohibits everyone, except the Commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife or a designee, from feeding or baiting the deer.

Tickling a Woman With a Feather Duster in Portland Is Forbidden

We’re not sure whether or not this one exists anymore, but you can still color us surprised.

Apparently in Portland, the law forbids a man from tickling a woman under the chin with a feather duster. There doesn’t seem to be a law against a woman doing it to a man, so we guess all is fair in love and tickling.

This weird law is shockingly specific and the odds are good that you won’t face any jail time if you find yourself holding a feather duster and tickling your lady friend.

Pinball

Playing Pinball Was Illegal in Freeport

When you think of pinball machines, you probably think of bright lights, lively music, and a pinball dancing this way and that as it’s pushed by flippers. It’s simple, inexpensive fun, and it takes players back to simpler times.

But, you might think twice about playing pinball in Freeport. The town had a law that requires businesses to apply for a license and pay a fee for each coin-operated game they have if they wish to offer pinball.

This weird Maine las dates back to the days when there were questions about the morality of pinball games. And as a result, no pinball machines or coin-operated games were licensed in the town.

The town reviewed this law in 2022, and we’re still sitting on pins and needles waiting to hear its verdict.

Be Aware of These Weird Laws in Maine Before Your Next Visit

Did we mention that there’s a lot to love about Maine? There is a lot to see and do if you visit the Pine Tree State. Just make sure that you don’t rub elbows with the wrong side of the law.

No matter how much you may want to tickle a woman under the chin with a feather duster or play pinball or bite a landlord or even jump out of a plane mid-flight, these are things that simply aren’t done in Maine.

So whether you live in Maine or you’re coming for a visit, enjoy all the wonderful things that Maine has to offer. Just keep your nose clean while you do. We mean it.

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