Strange Laws in Austin, Texas

by on July 28th, 2015
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COMMENTARY | “Keep Austin Weird” is a city-wide slogan used by many locals to instill a sense of peculiarity in a state otherwise thought to be exceedingly conservative. Austin is overwhelmingly liberal and progressive thanks to the nation’s largest university and the free spirits that wander the streets. However, the city also has some outdated legislation still on the books. Here is a guide to some of the weirdest laws that still exist in Austin, Texas. (Note: If you wish to try to find your own weird laws, check the Austin City Code and feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of the page. I also found strange laws for the entire state of Texas, which can be found here: Texas Constitution and Statutes.)

[Related: Find more news about Austin.]

In Austin, it is illegal to carry a set of wire cutters in your pocket. The intention of this legislation was to prevent persons from stealing cattle in the days of the Wild West. However, these times have long since passed. Good luck finding cattle in the city limits. Though, I bet if you tried hard enough, you could find some. The city is weird enough.

In Texas, and by extension, in Austin, it is illegal to spit on the sidewalk. Good luck enforcing this rule. Just walk down Sixth Street any night of the week and you’ll be sure to run into a frat boy dipping tobacco and emitting brown discharge from his lips. This rule may be on the books, but it is not enforced.

It is also illegal to shoot a buffalo from a second-story hotel window. I’ve lived in Texas all my life, and the only buffalo I’ve ever seen in the state was in the form of steak on a plate. In fact, the only live buffalo I’ve ever encountered were in Wyoming. However, if I ever do see a buffalo while I’m staying in a hotel, I’ll be sure to shoot it from the third-story window.

[Related: Texas primary likely delayed as court redraws maps.]

Finally, Austin City Code ยง9-5-22 OFFENSES, (3) states, “A person commits an offense if the person: intentionally inhales fumes, odors, or gases from aerosol paint or glue to become intoxicated, dizzy, imbalanced, or unconscious.” I found it funny that people took the time to write this down. You can buy aerosol paint or glue, but for God’s sake, don’t smell it.

Jim Arnold is a native Austinite who enjoys rooting for the Longhorns, playing disc golf, and listening to live music.


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