Weirdest Laws In New Hampshire's State History

New Hampshire's state history is riddled with peculiarities, like that time it became the first state to report an alien abduction (via History), or that time the state received half a million bucks to send their football players out to practice sans helmets (via Chowdaheadz). Most notorious of all, was the time a New Hampshire native actually went golfing on the moon (via Space).

As you might imagine, with weird history like this, there's also some equally strange state legislation both on the books and in the archives. From prohibitions on heavy machinery and bus fumes to some pretty lax vehicle regulations and restroom restrictions, there's a lot to delve into when reviewing weird laws in New Hampshire. It's the Granite State and the Switzerland of America (per U.S. News & World Report). We'd tell you to strap in and brace for the strange legislation ahead, but this is one destination where seatbelts and helmets are not required. (More on that later.)

Briefly in 2017, pregnant women and their doctors could legally commit murder

USA Today reports that in 2017, New Hampshire legislators drafted a new law that unintentionally gave pregnant women, and sometimes their doctors, the right to commit murder. Drafted as a kind of abortion law, legislators aimed to define a fetus as a human being once it reached 20 weeks of age.

According to HuffPost, the original Senate Bill 66 (via Legiscan) resembled reproductive legislation seen in 38 of our nation's other states, but with one key difference: It created a legal loophole for pregnant women to commit murder and evade all punitive repercussions. That is because the bill contained the following clause, legalizing "any act committed by the pregnant woman" and then went on the describe "cases of second-degree murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, or causing or aiding suicide."

It's uncertain how all that murderous verbiage managed to pass the Republican-led legislature. Rep. J.R. Hoell claimed, "The bill as drafted allows for physician-assisted suicide and allows a pregnant woman to commit homicide without consequences." It has since been revised.

Bathing within sight of your own house during the day was once illegal

As evidence that wonky legislation has been on the books for quite some time was an antiquated law which forbade bathing within sight of your own house during the day. According to Stupid Laws, this historical gem of a law has long been repealed. However, it once existed under Chapter 113 § 6 Sec 6 of New Hampshire state statutes. Justia US Law reports that chapter is now reserved for military regulations.

What we see here is yet another weird bathtub law, meaning New Hampshire joins an elongated list of states in the US that have placed some pretty crazy regulations on bathing (via American Bath Factory). What makes this one interesting is the fact that it only pertains to the daytime. Presumably, you were welcome to go on ahead and drag your bathtub out into the backyard and bathe while staring longingly at your own house (likely realizing that's where the tub really belongs) to your heart's content. The only stipulation was that the sun had to be down already. To be fair, it stipulated "without necessity," and also included swimming and possibly exposing oneself while dressing or undressing for either activity.

Keep your hands off New Hampshire seaweed, or face the prosecution

Only in New Hampshire can you live free or die, or go to prison for picking up seaweed (via Only In Your State). The choice is entirely in your own hands.

The beaches of New Hampshire are a beautiful getaway for most. But apparently, for some, they are a hot spot to get away with swiping seaweed. So, in 1973, crafty legislators drafty this strange piece of legislation to deter all those would-be seaweed criminals and catch them in the act of hauling seaweed or rockweed under the darkness of New Hampshire's night sky.

As per the State of New Hampshire's General Court website, this weird law can still be found today. It is located under Chapter 207 section 48 under the Title XVIII Fish and Game. Seaweed thieves, please note the times and hours wherein seaweed is not to be stolen. According to the text it's forbidden between daylight in the evening and daylight in the morning, a clause that reads a lot more like a parking sign than a law.

No seatbelts or helmets required

Road risk-takers go unrestrained, but only in the state of New Hampshire. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), New Hampshire is the only state in the entire country that currently does not legally require drivers and/or passengers above the age of 18 to buckle up. Citizens Count reports that it is also one of only three states nationwide that does not require motorcyclists to wear a helmet.

Several attempts at passing stricter traffic safety laws have been made. Citizens Count reports that there was one bill proposed in 2010 that would have forced helmets onto motorcyclists, had it not died in the House Transportation Committee on its way to becoming a law. It's clear that this state takes it's "Live Free" motto seriously — perhaps even a little too seriously.

The CDC says that this lax legislation is responsible for many of the 919 deaths related to vehicle crashes that tragically occurred in New Hampshire between 2003 and 2012. According to their infographic, approximately 31% of New Hampshire drivers ride without seatbelts, which is more than double the national average.

Ferrets are strictly prohibited while hunting

While the state of New Hampshire may be a bit lackadaisical on their vehicle safety, they have no shortage of regulations for those furry friends. And by furry friends, we're talking ferrets. We know how much you were looking forward to venturing out into the woods with a leashed ferret in your possession, but you best be advised to avoid such foolishness in New Hampshire. This law is there to stop you in your tracks (via Gen Court).

The ferret restriction is another law that has its place in current legislation under the section regulating fishing and gaming. To quote the text, which can be found in chapter 207:6, "no person, while hunting or obviously on his way to or from hunting, shall have a ferret in his possession, custody or control."

According to Huffington Post, New Hampshire "has rules that say laws can't be interpreted literally if they'd provoke an 'absurd result.'" Do with that what you will.