Alabama might look like a pretty normal southern state on the surface, but as soon as you look under the hood of its legal statutes, you'll find that the state is home to some weirdly outdated laws. Also, it is missing certain laws that have become the norm in most states.
According to political science professor James Seroka, Alabama doesn't have a system to review and get rid of obsolete laws, which has made for some chortle-worthy statutes, or the lack thereof. Most states have what are called "sunset" legislations that require laws to be reconsidered and abolished if they're no longer useful.
Let's look at two strange legal situations in Alabama.
Wrong-Way Driver? No Problem!
In Alabama, one old law says it's okay for you to drive down a one-way street in the wrong direction -- that is, if you attach a lantern to the front of your car. This law might have been appropriate in the past, when traffic wasn't very high, and automobiles, horse-drawn carriages and bicycles moved slowly through the streets.
As long as you had a lantern hanging in front of your vehicle so people could see you and get out of the way, what's the problem? Well, this law might have made sense in the past, but it certainly doesn't make sense today, when the roads are well designed to provide access to every location and cars zoom to-and-fro at high speeds.
Want to Marry Your Sister? You Have the Blessings of the State!
Pretty much every state in the union has a law against marrying your brother or sister. These incest laws are there because of religious and moral belief systems shared by most communities. Arguably, they are also there for health reasons. Certain states even make it illegal to marry your cousins and step-siblings. However, Alabama has no such laws.
Old Laws Might Not Be Enforceable
Just because these laws do and don't exist in Alabama, it doesn't mean they are enforceable. Indeed, if you drive down a street in the wrong direction with a lantern attached to your car, you will have a hard time trying to argue that you can't be held liable for accidents or hit with a traffic citation as a result of your actions. Similarly, it might be more difficult to marry your sibling than it sounds in the state.
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