5 unusual laws in Utah

By: Faith Heaton Jolley

25540894The 2015 Utah legislative session came to a close Thursday, and several new laws were passed. While many of these new laws are prudent and useful, there are several current laws that are a bit strange that you may not have even been aware of.  Here are five strange Utah laws that you may not have realized were laws. And remember, most of these laws probably went into effect because someone attempted these actions.

Fishing with explosives or electricity

While most anglers are pretty traditional about using some variation of a line and hook to fish, others may have been more creative, thus prompting this law. You may not obstruct a waterway while fishing, according to the 2015 Utah Fishing Guidebook. You may also not use “any chemical, explosive, electricity, poison, firearm, pellet gun or archery equipment to take fish or crayfish.”

So while fishing with dynamite seems like a good idea in the movies, it is illegal in Utah.

However, it is now legal to use a crossbow to take carp at any open water statewide. But you may not use a crossbow to take any other species of fish, the Utah Fishing Guidebook says.

Weather modification

Many people probably don’t think about attempting to alter the weather, but just in case you decide to try, just know that it is illegal without a license. Utah Administrative Code R653 states that in order to use “weather modification” or “cloud seeding,” a person must first obtain a permit from the Utah Division of Water Resources.

“Cloud seeding or weather modification means all acts undertaken to artificially distribute or create nuclei in cloud masses for the purposes of altering precipitation, cloud forms or other meteorological parameters,” according to the Utah Administrative Code.

Unfair discrimination of buyers of milk, cream or butterfat

Many types of discrimination can be legally penalized, but you may not know that in Utah, it is a class B misdemeanor to “unfairly discriminate” against buyers of milk, cream or butterfat, according to Utah Criminal Code 76-10-3005. 

It is considered “unfair discrimination” for a business that buys milk, cream or butterfat to purchase those commodities at a higher rate or price in one community or city than in another community or city, in an effort to create a monopoly or destroy the business of a competitor.

Causing a catastrophe

If you have a night out on the town, just make sure you don’t “cause a catastrophe” — it’s illegal in Utah. A person is guilty of causing a catastrophe if they “cause widespread injury or damage to people or property using weapons of mass destruction, explosions, fire, flood, avalanche or collapsing a building,” according to Utah Criminal Code 76-6-105. 

Causing a catastrophe can either be a first degree felony or a class A misdemeanor, based on if the person knowingly or recklessly caused the damage.

Riding with no hands

Remember when you were a kid and it was cool to be able to ride your bike without having any hands on the handlebars? Turns out, it is illegal.

“A person operating a bicycle or moped shall keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times,” according to Utah Code 41-6a-1112. 

It is also illegal to carry a package or bundle if it prevents the use of both hands in operating the bicycle or moped. So forget about doing “no hands” in Utah.#Unusuallaws

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