Welcome to Evil Week, our annual dive into all the slightly sketchy hacks we’d usually refrain from recommending. Want to weasel your way into free drinks, play elaborate mind games, or, er, launder some money? We’ve got all the info you need to be successfully unsavory.
My college friends and I have a saying: “It’s not illegal to have fun.” Now, in my old age (I’m going to live forever), I’ve learned that this is not necessarily true. Many fun things are, in fact, against the law. But not always.
Owning a pet tiger, counting cards in a casino, writing erotic fiction about beloved cartoon characters…these are just some of my favorite ways to start the day. They may not be advisable, but are they actually illegal? Sure, there are social taboos, personal safety, and ethical quandaries to consider. For better or—usually—for worse, the law doesn’t always align with public perception. And what a tragedy it would be for you to hold yourself back from living your damn life, all out of fear of legal repercussions that don’t actually apply. Read on to learn about your rights regarding activities commonly assumed to be illegal, but that you can totally get away with.
Riding in the back of a pickup truck
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I’ve always heard that it’s illegal to ride in the back of a pickup truck because of seatbelt laws, but it turns out that’s only the case in certain states. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the following states have have no laws about riding in the back of a pickup truck at all:
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
What’s legal and what’s advisable are two very different things, of course. Pickup beds are not designed for people and offer no protection in a crash. Other states, like Colorado, Georgia, have light restrictions like requiring that everyone in the car is over a certain age, the vehicle is totally enclosed, or if it’s work-related. So, check in on your state’s specific laws; you might just be able to ride happily in the back after all.
Whether casinos like it or not, card counting is technically legal. However, there is a technicality: Casinos are private companies that set their own rules. Card counting is banned in most casinos because it reduces the edge the house has over players. So, if you’re caught counting cards, you’ll likely be thrown out and blacklisted—but you won’t be thrown in jail.
Removing your mattress tag
Confusion stems from the fact that it is illegal for the mattress manufacturer to remove the tag. If you are the consumer or the buyer of the mattress, you can remove the tag after you purchase it, with no consequence. Freedom! Liberation! USA!
Drawing on U.S. currency
Here’s what to know about messing with money: It is not necessarily illegal to write, draw, or stamp paper dollar bills. That’s all still legal tender, baby. What you can’t do is fraudulently deface, alter, or mutilate U.S. currency. Think about it like this: If you draw on paper money and try to pass off its value as something else, you’re in trouble. If you’re trying to preserve the memory of your trip to Mount Rushmore with one of those stretched out pennies, you’re fine.
Recording a conversation
In one-party consent states, such as New York, you can legally record a conversation with someone who has no idea you’re recording the conversation. For the most part, all states are one-party consent states, except for ten: California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington. Connecticut and Nevada are “mixed” consent states, where the consent laws vary by situation.
Driving barefoot…or entirely naked
You can drive naked in any U.S. state, so long as you don’t break any other public nudity laws—for instance, if you expose yourself to a child, a misdemeanor public indecency charge becomes a felony sex crime. Drive naked if you want, but do it where no one’s likely to see you.
Drawing or possessing lewd cartoons of fictional characters
Hey, what you make Bugs Bunny do to Scooby Doo in the privacy of their own bedroom is none of my business. In most places, your…artistic freedom…is not illegal. But some local areas may have stricter obscenity laws. And of course, this assumes your drawings have nothing to do with and will never be distributed to minors.
Owning a pet tiger
You could be next in line for the Tiger King throne. While there is no federal U.S. law that prohibits wildlife ownership, exotic animal laws vary by state. For instance, Nevada, Wisconsin, Alabama, and North Carolina have little to no state regulations on owning wildlife. Again, this is a perfect example of the difference between something being legal versus ethical. In many cases, private tiger ownership threatens public safety and undermines conservation effort.
The bottom line: Know your rights. Drive naked. Stretch pennies. And create all the freaky AI porn you need.